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I heard a joke from Swiss comedian/satirist Hazel Brugger on popular German TV show "Die Heute Show" and I didn't understand why it was funny. But I told it to several German friends and they all thought it was hilarious:

Die Bundeskanzlerin kommt zum Arzt, und der Arzt sagt, "Ah gut! Ich brauche eine Putzfrau, die schwarzarbeitet." - YouTube (3:18)

I guess the idea of Angela Merkel working as a cleaning lady on the black market is kind of funny, but I wasn't sure if this was a reference to some kind of German cultural phenomenon or story about Angela Merkel with which I wasn't familiar? Or is it just a silly joke with no deeper meaning?

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    Even after reading the answers, to me simply assembling words taken out of a situation is not funny by default ;-) – puck Dec 20 '20 at 11:12
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    To clarify: Did you tell the joke to your friends as you cited it here or did you show them the video? The "joke" in itself can only be misunderstood completely without the context of the video, and I really don't know how it would be hilarious to anyone. – HalvarF Dec 21 '20 at 12:03
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Ich vermute stark, dass der Witz darauf anspielt, dass Alice Weidel (die blonde Frau, die nach einem Witz gefragt wird) eine Putzfrau bei ihr angestellt und schwarz beschäftigt haben soll.


I strongly suspect that the joke alludes to the fact that Alice Weidel (the blonde woman who is asked to tell a joke) is said to have unreported employed a cleaning lady at her place.

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First of all, this is not a joke. She makes fun of her interviewee. As others have already said here, the interviewee is Alice Weidel, a member of the right-wing populist to right-wing extremist party AfD, who is known for double standards and mock moral outrage. The AfD and its members have always been the target of (considered by many as deserved) scorn, ridicule and loathing. This is what Hazel Brugger's entire video is about. She attends an AfD election night party and makes fun of the members.

With the beginning "The Chancellor comes to the doctor", Brugger tries to induce Weidel to make a thoughtless statement. The AfD repeatedly sent insults and tips against Chancellor Merkel, so that Weidel could definitely make another slogan against Merkel. However, Weidel is a media professional enough that she knows that each of her comments is under special observation and does not get involved, so that Brugger spins the "joke" on Weidel. In such a way that she alludes to the fact that Weidel had illegally employed an asylum seeker, which became known two weeks before the interview.

(The video appeared on TV on September 29, 2017, two weeks after it became known that Weidel had employed an asylum seeker in an unreported employment [Schwarzarbeit].)

But why do your friends find the joke funny? Without the context (Weidel / illegal work) there is no punch line at all. First of all, the beginning of the joke follows familiar structures. In this case the "doctor joke". The listeners expect to laugh straight away. In addition, there have been jokes about Angela Merkel for decades, so people trust the joke to be funny too.

In this case there are three things that might be funny (they aren't, but they might).

  • The Chancellor should work for the doctor as a cleaning lady. So the comparison of the social positions and that the doctor disregards Merkel. Many people don't like Merkel and "wish" her this social decline.

  • Black is the color of Merkel's CDU party. The cleaning lady should work in an unreported employment - Schwarzarbeit.

  • Cleaning staff are mostly women. A humiliation based on their gender is also an option here. Mainly because of the rather negative term "Putzfrau".

But what do we Germans know about jokes anyway...

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  • additionally I think there are the Schwarze Konten from CDU (well known, esp. in the past) and also Afd has nondeclared sources of money in their accounts. – Shegit Brahm Dec 21 '20 at 9:48
  • +1 Thank you for the very factual edit! – Narusan Dec 22 '20 at 22:25
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At first glance it seems to be a joke about Angela Merkel, but it is not. If one reads the text as it is, one will be bemused what it is about und why it should be funny. More important, the story about its origin is missing completely.

choXer's answer has explained it, but let me fill in some essential details.

Alice Weidel (co-chairperson of the AfD parliamentary group) was asked if she can tell a joke. She said "no", and the interviewer replied "I give you a "startup" - Kommt die Kanzlerin zum Arzt". After a while Alice Weidel shakes her head and says "no, please help me, what is the continuation?" and the interviewer answers: "Sagt der Arzt: Oh, hier ist es aber dreckig, ich glaube, ich brauche eine Putzfrau, die schwarz arbeitet." As a reaction Alice Weidel laughs and says "that works".

Without the AfD-context

Kommt die Kanzlerin zum Arzt. Sagt der Arzt: Oh, hier ist es aber dreckig, ich glaube, ich brauche eine Putzfrau, die schwarz arbeitet.

would not be funny. The beginning "Kommt die Kanzlerin zum Arzt. Sagt der Arzt:" does not fit at all to what the doctor says. But if you watch the whole video you will notice that in the preceding interview Beatrix von Storch (also AfD) was also asked to tell a joke and she replied "Also ich mal einen Witz: Die Kanzlerin ist noch immer nicht zurückgetreten. Das ist doch eigentlich ganz schön witzig, oder?" I conclude that the interviewer took this up and passed the ball to Weidel to provoke her to say something denigrative about Angela Merkel. Weidel didn't use this opportunity, instead the interviewer stroke a heavy blow by continuing with "Oh, hier ist es aber dreckig, ich glaube, ich brauche eine Putzfrau, die schwarz arbeitet." This refers to Weidel's cleaning lady who was a Syrian asylum seeker. In my opinion that is the main point of the joke, but of course also illegal employment plays a role to point to "Goodie Two Shoes"-behavior of AfD-members.

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  • Re "in the preceding interview": How far apart in time? None at all? A day? Weeks? – Peter Mortensen Dec 21 '20 at 13:48
  • So part of the joke is hypocrisy by members of AfD? – Peter Mortensen Dec 21 '20 at 13:49
  • @PeterMortensen I think it was immediately before the interview with Weidel. But the video was cut, so perhaps a few minutes. And yes, it is about hypocrisy. In public ranting against refugees and in private illegally employing a refugee. In public ranting against the morally degenerated "old parties" and in private doing illegal things ... not only in the context of the cleaning lady, see here. – Kritiker der Elche Dec 21 '20 at 14:05
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Since when has it been funny when someone doesn't pay social contributions for their cleaning lady?

Parties have colors, and those who work for the CDU are »die Schwarzen«. Here is the joke.

So on the whole we have a joke which also contains an allusion.

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    The interview with Alice Weidel certainly pointed to hypocrisy: See here. Note that this article is from 13.09.2017, the interview from 29.09.2017. – Paul Frost Dec 20 '20 at 10:21
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    -1 If there's one thing that this is not about, it's a pun about "schwarz" and the CDU party. This is entirely about how Brugger roasts Weidel by prodding her to finish a joke about Merkel, and when Weidel doesn't find an original way to catch that ball, alertly turning the joke setup about Merkel into another roast of Weidel. – HalvarF Dec 21 '20 at 0:26

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