‘Persona and Physicality in the Work of Karl Valentin’

Mike Wilson, Oliver Double

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Karl Valentin (1882-1948), celebrated cabaret performer,clown and collaborator of Bertolt Brecht, first came to prominence on the cabaret stages of his native Munich in 1908. Valentin was physically striking, a tall, exceedingly lanky figure with bright ginger hair and elastic facial features, and his success came following a suggestion that he used his physicality as a notable feature in his act. So Valentin had his suit jackets and trousers tightened and shortened, his boots lengthened and even sported a long prosthetic nose on occasion. One of his earliest monologues, Ich bin ein armer magerer Mann (I am a Poor, Skinny Man) serves to emphasise the establishment of Valentin’s comic persona through his physicality. Drawing on a new translation of the aforementioned sketch, along with footage of Valentin in performance with his stage partner Liesl Karlstadt (as short and dumpy as Valentin was tall and skinny), this paper will explore, interrogate and chart the evolution of Valentin’s comic persona and its relationship to physicality and, in particular, physical oddity and contrast.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jan 1990
Event Playing for Laughs Symposium on Comedy Performance - De Montfort University, Leicester
Duration: 1 Feb 20081 Feb 2008


Presentation Playing for Laughs Symposium on Comedy Performance


  • karl valentin
  • cabaret
  • comedy


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