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30 August 1955|
Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany
|Occupation||comedian, jazz musician, actor, author, film and theatre director|
|Website||Official homepage (German)|
Helge Schneider (born 30 August 1955 in Mülheim an der Ruhr) is a German comedian, jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist, author, film and theatre director, and actor. Schneider's works are an unconventional mixture of horseplay humor, parody, and jazz-influenced music. They involve spontaneity and improvisation as important elements.
After dropping out of high school, he started an apprenticeship as a construction draftsman. He soon changed plans and was admitted to the Duisburg conservatory to study piano, after passing an entrance exam for particularly gifted applicants (it later turned out that his diploma was invalid since he dropped out of high school too early). He then toured as a little-known jazz musician and as an entertainer, basically a stand-up comedian, in local clubs. Schneider is a multi-instrumentalist, playing various instruments such as the Hammond organ, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, drums, piano, accordion, trumpet, cello, saxophone, clarinet and others.
He became a popular comedian in the 1990s and is still one of the best known German comedians. He toured and still tours (alone and with his bands "Hardcore", "The Firefuckers" and others) through major concert halls with a mixture of music and comedy. He frequently appears on German TV, and is probably best known for his song Katzenklo (Kitty Litter Box): "Katzenklo, Katzenklo, ja das macht die Katze froh" ("Kitty litter tray, kitty litter tray, that's what makes the kitty gay [happy]."), which spent 17 weeks on the German music charts in 1994, peaking at number 13. He has written, directed and starred in four Low-budget movies. He has also composed and performed music for numerous films, including some of his own films like Texas - Doc Snyder hält die Welt in Atem and Jazzclub - Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm. In 2007 he appeared as Adolf Hitler in a satirical film: My Führer - The Really Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler.
Schneider has written nine books, including an autobiography ("My whole life's in this book, up to right now. The second part will come in thirty or forty years") and a musical, "Mendy - das Wusical", which appeared at Bochum Theatre in 2004.
His comic techniques are often referred to as highly unique, extremely anarchic (also by himself) and include parody, use of the Ruhr Region local dialect Ruhrdeutsch, the unexpected use of infantile language and other unexpected stylistic transitions, slapstick/physical humour, Dada-esque absurdity, sudden and unexpected use of crude/sexual humour, references to national and international highbrow and lowbrow culture, and phonetic and declamatory playfulness and exaggeration. Vast parts of his material are deeply rooted in German language and do not translate well into other languages.