Böhmeroo the Stinkeroo: News Anchor Gains Clout for His Split Personality Sketches

Jan Böhmermann, a well-established 42-year-old comedian and the host at ZDF Royale Magazine, finds his stronger suit to connect with Gen Z – reaction streaming.

His bizarre media personality is hardly known outside Germany. Maybe, except for his political stunts, such as the obscene poem about President Erdogan that stirred up an international conflict between the countries, the so-called "Erdogate", in April 2016, and the anti-nationalist satirical song "BE DEUTSCH!" (to English, "Be German") he wrote to pounce on the nationwide rallies against Muslim immigrants. He's been in hot water plenty of times but, due to his subtle knowledge of the medium and audience's sentiments (he used to study TV, theater and stuff), he inevitably came out as a winner. Like his slanderous lyrics, mentioned above, that ended up in the German constitutional court and led the authorities to repeal the 145-year-old law from the German penal code only to protect Böhmermann's freedom of speech.

Der neue SPIEGEL ist da - morgen überall am Kiosk, heute hier: https://t.co/cLVUNMmHmc pic.twitter.com/pvrzqaT1p7— SPIEGEL ONLINE (@spiegelonline) April 15, 2016

The Böhmermann affair makes the front page in SPIEGEL (Nr. 16/2016). The title translates as "Bad, worse, Böhmermann".

He roasts established topics and yet he himself belongs to the establishment. He ridicules men in power, yet he is one of them. He's hilarious and notorious. Meet Jan Böhmermann.

The Quirky Personality of Jan Böhmermann

Böhmermann has been notorious for getting personal from the outset of his career in journalism. 1997: he makes fun of cabaret performers from his hometown Bremen. 2006: he assumes Lukas Podolski's identity in his weekly putting the German national soccer player on the spot ("Lukas Diary") and, inspired by its success, makes a similar podcast two years later ("Pod-Olski"). In 2007 Böhmermann was an interview guest at Harald Schmidt's talk show; he was asked which of the local news series ("Lokalzeit", a WDR regional news broadcast across several provinces) he liked the most, and his answer was the ones covering Duisburg and Bonn. Harald Schmidt, slightly puzzled, adjusted his glasses and uttered: "I'm afraid those are pretty cocky, aren't they?". Böhmermann confirmed: "Sure, they are shot in a young cheeky manner... and that's what folks probably like about reporters."

Isn't that the media personality trait of Böhmermann himself? Exactly. He's a fight club member who talks with his peer audience at the same level. He's not pretentious, yet his demeanor can be deeply offensive virtually crossing the line of appropriate intellectual humor. He's a boomer destined to be loved by the older, yet desperate-to-feel-young audience. He's a slick-haired suave presenter, equipped with a suit and tie, to entertain casually dressed folks through a TV or PC monitor. Well, he used to be that type...

By 2020, Böhmermann had been on top of his fame.

ZDF had just taken his Magazine Royale late-night talk show (previously owned by its subsidiary ZDFneo) into the top league. The budget had allowed him to hire a top team run by a former "Vice" chief editor. As the result, ZDF Magazine Royale set the ratings benchmark in the German public-sector entertaining content, targeting the audience aged between 14 and 49.

Numbering up to 10.6 million impressions (audience from 14 to 49 yrs.), ZDF Magazin Royale held the biggest market share of 26,1% among its rival products by September 2022. Source: GF/Berechnungen DWDL.de

Böhmermann initiates a content shift toward Gen Z

You cannot pinpoint the exact date the transformation took place. But no later than in December 2020, it must have occurred to him that he'd aged quite a bit. On the cusp of turning forty, he released the new label "Boomercringe" on Spotify, which has since seen 24 episodes in the podcast Fest & Flauschig (2016- ). In those funny episodes, he and his pal Olli Schulz mull over the typical elderly situational or seasonal topics, such as glühwein drinking or buying poor-quality nutcrackers at the Christmas markets, in an intentionally overenthusiastic manner.

At the same time, he gets increasingly inclined toward woke narratives: he pans bloggers, who wear clothes by an apparel brand with right-wing connections, as "old Nazis", advocates gendering in the German language, welcomes LGBTQ+ pride celebrations, lampoons politicians who talk about the rise of left wing extremism in Germany and denounces pinkwashing from big corporations in satirical musical videos. His recent topics included in-game transactions, public-service porn platforms, OceanGate submersible, the fees imposed by event ticketing stores - all sounds pretty exciting and familiar to our generation. But beyond this trifle content shift, Böhmermann started employing tricks to rejuvenate not only his content but his appearance as late as 2022.

A divided self: freshly-styled Böhmermann pokes fun at his old-fashioned counterpart

So far, ZDF Royale Magazine has revealed six Böhmermann reaction videos on its YouTube channel. All these feature a dude in some sort of an urban classics outfit, wearing a top tank, gold chain around his neck, and a black cycling cap on top.

Jan Böhmermann (left) and MontanaBlack (right) exchanged a huge polemic about in-game purchases, online casino banks, lootbox addiction etc. Böhmermann decides to assume Montana's identity two years later.

This aims to be a parody of the most viewed German Twitch blogger “MontanaBlack”

Böhmermann used to have an argument with him back in 2020, concerning the dangers of microtransactions in mobile games and a lootboxing addiction. After two years of rest, the boomer blogger grabs the chance to emulate everything that, in his view, defines an average male Twitch blogger. He would go on babbling off the cut, breaking his narration once in a while, munching on chips, burping aloud, and spitting out any insult or derogatory concept that pops into his head; his video titles are stuffed with emoji and caps on random words, the live chat messages that pop up on his screen are fake since the video is not recorded live and will be played on YouTube, his room background is neon-lit and somewhat tacky. Just like he'd intended.

His fame with a new role has peaked in the reaction video, where he assumes a role of Twitch streamer to poke fun at his double from a regular talk show episode. The video has scored 1,3 million views, more than double compared to ZDF Magazin Royale's highest-grossing video in this section.

The topic of the video is wisely chosen: the rating debate for the mobile games with in-game purchases. What Böhmermann does, is combining the accurately scripted newscaster's coverage aimed at kids' parents - the bunch of naive apathetic boomers - with a lively reaction video that has a (well-orchestrated) spontaneous, very informal touch. Of course, by doing this, the comedian dwells on the contrast between media formats and audience preferences, trying to embrace both in his finest satire.

The blogger Böhmermann is being salty at his newscast-brother Böhmeroo in numerous aspects, beginning from the video insights to the clues of his staged behavior at the talk show. The features are summed up in the table below.

Reaction Video: How Gen Z blogger watches a boomer-type TV content

they get annoyed at the long introduction ("I'm sitting about 30 mins at a time, get on the track dude")

they dismiss the typical presenter's choleric enthusiasm ("Yeah we don't care whatsoever")

they loop the video on a slow speed to reveal staged behavior ("He raises his hands three times and winks three times, it's easy to figure out all these petty tricks")

they cringe at the heavy effort of the presenter to explain a simple topic ("Nobody needs to get explained what microtransactions are, dude)"

they closely scrutinize possible factual errors ("whales are not fish, they are mammals ha-ha dude"

they are too sensitive about veiled advertising, yet less inclined to push a certain perspective on things and thus less vulnerable to panic

they troll the presenter by mimicking the digital slang terms that were just uttered ("Gaming wh-a-a-a-le", "AlexV is Alex the Fifth")

if the content gets more ridiculous and there is no chance for a twist, they interrupt the stream and just call it a day ("what's up dude what are you talking?")

🧐So what?Böhmermann's reaction videos on ZDF Magazine Royale build an unprecedented case of rejuvenating the format of a talk show satire. The ultimate goal is to appeal to GenZers. They may experience an attention spike due to a familiar stream setting and have a good time being entertained by loosely-scripted stunts performed by an award-winning boomer. What would it be like if Oliver Welke from heute-show decided to take a shot at this?