Cologne (dpa) – Harald Schmidt retired from television eight years ago with his late-night show, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t follow current developments very closely. His weighting of topics is sometimes somewhat different from that of most media.
In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, he talks about the traffic light government, the coming winter, his 65th birthday and the brave new Tiktok world.
Question: You’re now playing Louis XV in Vienna – and you sing, too?
Answer: Yes, two movements. That is also enough. I just sing the way an actor sings.
Question: How did that come about?
Answer: Volksoper Vienna, I don’t need much convincing. And Vienna is a totally theater-crazy city.
Question: And Austrian politics?
Answer: I stay completely out of it. I am a guest. You have to live there, you have to have grown up there, to have that in your DNA, otherwise it’s just blubber from outside. What I also don’t do at all is talk negatively about German politics abroad. I think that’s a weak character performance if you do that.
Question: The German chancellor probably doesn’t give much away for you anyway.
Answer: I think the government is doing its job more or less well. I mean: The store runs, and the rest is up to the excited people who sit in the talk shows. I don’t go there. I don’t go to those catch basins where the humiliated and insulted sit. I only go where I am the only interlocutor.
Question: Like the chancellor. He is also only questioned individually by Anne Will.
Answer: Yes, but I was wondering: The other day, Scholz also sat in a round on Maybrit Illner. But actually: You know where to go alone and make your statement without being bothered by questions.
Question: Scholz is certainly more present in the talk shows than Merkel.
Answer: He has to be there because the situation is extremely difficult now. There are several building sites: the war, the economic situation, inflation, will the gas be turned off? I don’t know how his media and press consulting is going, but he is present more often than he used to be, and certainly more often than Angela Merkel.
Question: Robert Habeck is the real star of the government?
Answer: Currently, yes. At the moment he is very popular in the media. But that can change quickly, as we know.
Question: After all, your time was that of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
Answer: Yes, that was a completely different situation. The media landscape was also different. You didn’t have the Internet yet, so to speak. There were no smartphones yet. Things were just getting started. You didn’t have the constant presence you have today.
Question: Was politics more entertaining back then?
Answer: Oh, that’s like saying that soccer used to be more close to home. I’m not interested in whether a player is close to home. If the sheikh pays 300 million for him, why not? I have to deal with the current date. And that’s where I get it: The chancellor has just held his first press conference after the summer vacations, and there are lots of new packages coming in. I like that expression: packages! It’s just quickly forgotten. For example, the Easter package that Robert Habeck put together for us – I already don’t know what it was. In the past, you would have said: debts. Today: special assets.
Question: The chancellor wants to reduce the fear of the terrible winter. After all, people have never been so afraid of a winter as they are of the coming one.
Answer: I don’t believe that people are afraid. It is said that people are afraid. The media are desperate that people are not afraid enough. When I see people in street polls, they say: “Well, we’ll wait and see. I’ll just turn down the gas a bit. Compared to other countries, we’re still doing great.”
Question: You don’t think people are that worried?
Answer: No. I have definitely learned that there is a huge difference between the media excitement that is spread and the population. They may notice that things are getting more expensive or that gas is getting more expensive. But at the end of the day, the population is much more unexcited than the media would like it to be. My favorite insanity is the phrase, “The nation is talking about it.”
Question: But inflation and rising energy prices really do cost money.
Answer: Look at the beer gardens, look at the street cafés: my generation, big sundaes! Many also already on the electric scooter, because one has the joints no longer so in the grasp. Of course, I already hear the objection: “That’s a few, but the little mothers!” That is certainly true. For me, the issue of the future is demographic change. Boomer. More and more retirees, fewer and fewer paying in. That will be a huge issue, and many packages will have to be put together.
Question: When will you be ready to retire?
Answer: I think I still have eight months to go. I was a freelancer for most of the time. But I paid in full for 15 years to get a mini-retirement. When I was at the theater and even today, if you work at ZDF, you have to work on a wage tax card. I’m also still a member of the Bayerische Versicherungskammer, which is a sensible institution for actors, because in my line of work many people get confused with the terms gross and net.
Question: Do you already know how much you get?
Answer: The current figure is 272 euros. Seriously! I’m collecting that hard as nails, because I’ve paid into the system and I’m entitled to it. It’s not a handout, it’s a deal I made with the state. Give it to me!
Question: Wolfgang Bosbach told us the other day…
Answer: … oh, there you had a very current star!
Question: … that you played the piano at Helmut Markwort’s birthday party in Munich.
Answer: Oh, Bosbach was there too? Yes, I played the piano and did a little stand-up. It was a great party. Five hours of program, I thought: Oh, but that’s long, but it totally worked because it was unstressful. All the people went up there with the number: I’m doing this for Markwort. There was Gunther Emmerlich, Vicky Leandros, Katja Ebstein, it was really great. Everyone who was on stage could do live. You don’t get that too often anymore.
Question: Do you also have such a big celebration for your birthday?
Answer: No. I have a surprise party.
Question: For yourself?
Answer: I don’t know yet whether I’ll surprise my guests or my guests will surprise me. But in any case, I already sent out this “save the date” ten years ago.
Question: So the party won’t be that big?
Answer: I don’t know. It is possible that we will only have a small table fireworks display as part of “We all have to save money”. “Rhine in flames” is not possible, because there is no water.
Question: At the moment there is a big retro wave on television. Are you not planning anything?
Answer: No, definitely not.
Question: Maybe someone will ask you.
Answer: Me? Pointless. Really pointless.
Question: Thomas Gottschalk is doing “Wetten dass…” again.
Answer: Yes, but Tommy never stopped. Tommy was always there for his audience, while I really only do something very, very, very sporadically. I also think that I’m not interesting for the stations.
Question: The boomers would certainly be there again.
Answer: Yes, but for me the whole thing has been completed in a great arc. I’m now back on stage where I came from, and that’s absolutely fantastic for me. I don’t have to coordinate with anyone.
Question: Can you explain where this wave comes from?
Answer: The retro wave? Probably a certain desperation. I don’t know anyone under 20 who still watches TV. On their cell phones, they watch the two minutes that interest them.
Question: You have the connection to the Tiktok world through your children?
Answer: Yes. I know roughly what Tiktok is. I also know that one is no longer on Facebook. But since I’m nowhere anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me.
About him: Harald Schmidt was born in Neu-Ulm on August 18, 1957, grew up in Nürtingen and studied acting in Stuttgart. After an engagement at the Augsburg Theater, he joined the Düsseldorf Kom(m)ödchen in 1984, where he made a name for himself as a cabaret artist. He got his first television series “MAZ ab!” in 1988, and the cult came with the “Harald Schmidt Show” launched in 1995. In 2014, he said goodbye as a late-night talker with the words, “Fantastic 19 years! All the best to you and have a nice evening.”