Jumpabola Pragmatic

Arts & Culture Newsletter: ‘Worst. German. Ever.’ and more at the San Diego International Fringe Festival

Here’s how Munich-born comedian Paco Erhard got the title for his act: “I made a certain joke about Germans in Germany and a lady actually shouted out to me ‘You’re the worst German ever!’ Historically, I do have competition. Anyway, I took that as a funny premise.”

“Worst. German. Ever.” is the standup show Erhard’s been performing at the ongoing San Diego International Fringe Festival. He’s got one more set, so catch him: It’s 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park, one of this year’s Fringe venues.

It’s true that Erhard has fun with his native country, like pointing out that one of Germany’s “accomplishments” was being first runner-up in two world wars.

“We’re very paranoid about who we are,” Erhard says. But in a serious vein, he reminds us that “many people around the world don’t know that we learn from our sins of the past a lot in schools so as to not repeat them again.”

His fellow Germans — the woman who “named” his act notwithstanding — tend to have a sense of humor about Erhard’s comedy.

“Germans at my shows love what I do normally because I don’t confirm the stereotypes,” he says. “I talk about them in a way that other Germans say, ‘Yeah. You got us. That’s exactly how it is.’ ”

He may be a stand-up comic, but Erhard considers himself a social observer as well: “Germans actually think ‘We’re all normal.’ Americans think they’re normal. We all have our certain ways.”

READ MORE: San Diego’s Fringe fest returns after two-year break in slimmed-down, pop-up format

More Fringe Festival

Phina Pipia’s performing her whimsical “Ha Ha Da Vinci” at the San Diego International Fringe Festival.

Phina Pipia’s performing her whimsical “Ha Ha Da Vinci” at the San Diego International Fringe Festival.

(Courtesy of Prine Photography)

Though its offerings vary from better-than-amateur to outstanding, the Fringe Festival is one of the most entertaining events of the year and without doubt one of the most creative. A truly moving performance I saw was Renee Westbrook’s one-woman show “Shelter.” Her dramatization about homelessness, in which she portrays multiple people on the streets of L.A., grew out of Westbrook’s own experience being homeless.

One Fringe show you can still get to is Phina Pipia’s whimsical “Ha Ha Da Vinci.” It’s onstage Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. Imaginative, intelligent and strangely mesmerizing, “Ha Ha Da Vinci” finds Pipia, who plays tuba and guitar and performs magic too, transported back to the time of the Italian Renaissance where Leonardo Da Vinci speaks to her through a portable radio. It’s all strange and wonderful.

READ MORE: San Diego’s Fringe fest is smaller and harder to find this year, but some shows sparkle

Pop music

Tori Amos

Tori Amos

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Comic-Con’s six weeks away, but Tori Amos is here Saturday. What do the two have in common? The singer-songwriter in 2009 won an Eisner Award, given out at the Con every year, for “Comic Book Tattoo,” the graphic novel on which she collaborated with friend Rantz Hoseley.

In September, Z2 Comics will release a new comics anthology, “Little Earthquakes: The Graphic Album,” inspired by Amos’ CD of the same name and marking its 30th anniversary. In the meantime, Amos will perform Saturday at the Balboa Theatre downtown, the ideal-sized venue to appreciate her classically trained piano playing and introspective song lyrics.

More music

Rapper Nelly

Rapper Nelly

(Courtesy photo)

Line dancing, mechanical bull riding and Nelly? It’s not as unlikely as it may sound. Remember, the “Hot in Herre” rapper released the album “Heartland” last year and in so doing demonstrated a relationship between his usual genre and country music.

See for yourself Saturday when Nelly performs on Day 1 of the weekend-long Old Town Music Festival in Temecula. The all-ages festival held in the parking lot at The Stampede features 14 bands. Nelly’s on the main stage at 8:45 p.m. Here’s the lineup for the festival.


Olympia Dukakis holds her Oscar after being honored at the 60th Academy Awards

Olympia Dukakis holds her Oscar at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angles after being honored at the 60th Academy Awards as best supporting actress for her role in “Moonstruck.”


Though she is best remembered for her roles on the big screen, especially in “Moonstruck” for which she won an Oscar, Olympia Dukakis enjoyed a lengthy career in theater. It just seems right, then, that her memory will be celebrated Monday night at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. The one-act “Remembering Olympia” was created by Dukakis brother, Apollo, who also will appear in the performance, with Kandis Chappell portraying Olympia, who passed away last year. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $25.

More theater

Sam Woodhouse and Doug "D.W." Jacobs at the original Lyceum Theatre in 1982.

San Diego Repertory Theatre co-founders Sam Woodhouse and Doug “D.W.” Jacobs in 1982 at the original Lyceum Theatre in downtown San Diego.

(San Diego Repertory Theatre)

On Tuesday, the Union-Tribune’s Pam Kragen reported that San Diego Repertory Theatre, which over the past 46 years has produced 333 plays and musicals in downtown San Diego, will suspend operations June 19.

All future productions have been canceled, as well as most of the upcoming events for the now-underway Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival. And all of the theater’s employees — 23 full-time staff and 15 part-timers — will be laid off.

Rep officials cited significant financial issues, the challenge of operating in an active construction zone at Horton Plaza and unexpectedly low ticket sales since its post-pandemic reopening last October for the closure.

READ MORE: San Diego Repertory Theatre to suspend operations after 46 years


Combine the talents of the late mystery novelist Tony Hillerman, Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin (“Game of Thrones”) and you’ve got a limited TV series, “Dark Winds,” that promises to be smart, suspenseful and true to characters created by Hillerman in his Leaphorn and Chee novels.

Redford and Martin, both of whom were friends with Hillerman, are executive producers of the Navajo crime drama that debuts Sunday on AMC. Attempts have been made a couple of times, with Redford always involved, to dramatize Hillerman’s stories for television. One of them, the PBS “Mystery!” attempts in the early 2000s, were good. “Dark Winds,” whose writers are all Native Americans, promises to be much better than good. As a Hillerman fan, I can’t wait.

Visual art

The Timken Museum reopened to the public this week after a two-year closure.

The Timken Museum reopened to the public this week after a two-year closure.

(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Timken Museum — the jewel box of Balboa Park — is freshly polished both inside and out and ready to open.

The $3 million, two-year renovation project of the 57-year-old museum includes system upgrades, the restoration of the building’s bronze finishes and revamping of the exhibition spaces.

“We wanted to return it to its original glory while upgrading the mechanical systems,” said Megan Pogue, the museum’s executive director. “A lot of work that has been done the visitor won’t see.”

READ MORE: In Balboa Park, the Timken Museum of Art is a polished jewel


Steven Schick

Steven Schick

(Hayne Palmour IV/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“Spotlight on Steven Schick”: As Steven Schick steps down as director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate his lasting contribution to UCTV and UC San Diego. Included in our archive of videos, you’ll enjoy full-length performances skillfully conducted under his baton, as well as interviews where he shares his musical inspirations, discusses creativity and what it means to be a percussionist, and talks about the benefit of improvisation for musicians and non-musicians alike. Don’t miss the Young People’s Concerts where Schick served as a tour guide of various musical pieces to his young audience in his uniquely entertaining and joyful style.

“Three Chords and a Lie”: Trent Atkinson and Brandon Stansell discuss their new film “Three Chords and a Lie,” which explores the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in country music. In a conversation with Tyler Morgenstern from Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, Stansell and Atkinson discuss the process of making the documentary and the challenges it presented, as well as larger issues of representation and diversity in the country music industry. “Three Chords and a Lie” follows Stansell as he returns to his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, 10 years after coming out as gay to his family.

“Discussion with Journalist Jean Guerrero on Politics and Immigration”: Journalist Jean Guerrero grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border. Her Puerto Rican mother put herself through medical school and met Guerrero’s Mexican father on her first day in San Diego. Guerrero says she’s always been drawn to cross-border issues having traveled back and forth across the border to Tijuana with her dad. In this Helen Edison Lecture series, Guerrero talks about her career as a journalist and writer, including her first book, “Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir,” which won a PEN Literary, and “Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda.”

And finally: Top weekend events

S. Peter Mc will presents his pop-up show Mini Van Jam at the 2022 San Diego International Fringe Festival.

S. Peter Mc will presents his pop-up show Mini Van Jam at the 2022 San Diego International Fringe Festival.


Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, June 9 to Sunday, June 12.

Coddon is a freelance writer.