The Argus: Brighton Festival Fringe launches today

Billed as the Five-Step Guide To Being German, Paco Erhard’s stand-up comedy for the Fringe was, of course, nothing of the sort, as he explained we would need at least 18 of them; and he might have guessed the fair smattering of Germans, Austrians or people married to Germans and Austrians in the Hobgoblin audience.

What we actually got was a side-splittingly funny hour of violently politically incorrect humour, much of which mentioned the war, football and motorway driving.

To a German a joke is no laughing matter, but Paco Erhard is the exception that proves the rule. His one-man show was a riot at the Edinburgh Festival and he has just returned from sell-out audiences at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia. The English are used to sending ourselves up and equally comfortable laughing at everyone else but listening to a German tell us that they do have a sense of humour, they just don’t take it to work, is unfamiliar.

Some of the best patter centred on familiar cross-cultural differences – holidays (“we like patriotism but not ours”), plumbing, lavatory flush notices, and train schedules are comic mines of rich potential and Erhard made the most of them. He didn’t flinch from Jewish references or school German history lessons (“please can we do maths instead? Greek?”) and even risked a light touch with the Holocaust.

But there is some national pride. Germans do snow better than the English. They should have remembered that in 1939: a few flakes would have made bombing the English railways completely unnecessary.