in praise of silliness

When I was in early high school, I took a summer improv class taught by college students. I loved it. I wouldn’t shut up about it for two years, but then I never did improv again.

Until this fall. I signed up for an eight-week intro course at Comedy Cafe Berlin on a yolo whim. And I felt like I had unlocked part of my brain that only was accessible during long periods of inactivity (see: early pandemic, winter breaks from college). It was silly, it was stupid, it was hilarious. Some of the sketches were sketchy, but by the time we got to the end-of-class show, I was once again in love with being on stage and making stuff up in real time.

Y’all know I like making stuff up anyway — like my NPR rap parody or my crafter WAP parody. My semiannual fake newspaper, copies of which are now in two university zine libraries. And my novel-in-progress, DAYTON BEACH. But I have now reached new levels of following through on silliness.

Last fall, at a boozy brunch, I pitched my friends a techno song called “Kostenloser Bürgertest” (eng.: free citizens’ test.) The signs were all over Berlin, advertising free Covid-19 testing, paid for by the German government and carried out by lightly trained workers in the foyers of restaurants, in empty storefronts and within convenience stores. The rhythm of the words matched a four-on-the-floor beat that stuck in my head while walking over to my friends’ place. Kostenloser Bürgertest. Kostenloser Bürgertest. Kostenloser Bürgertest. We joked around and made up some questionable lyrics for the song.

And then we forgot about it for about six months. By that point, the free Covid testing was over — though the signs remain all over the city. The summer of 2022 was full of hope: Germany had introduced the €9 ticket, which let you take local public transit anywhere in the country for the months of June, July and August. The past two pandemic summers had felt like missed opportunities. This summer would be different, right? Maybe.

In early summer, Kevin and I picked up the song idea again. And over the course of a few recording sessions and lots of edits and playing around, we came up with a party song that is totally our own (aside from the samples of speeches from Angela Merkel). We finished “Wir steigen ein (Kostenloser Bürgertest)” just in time to submit it to Germany’s Eurovision selection committee. It’s one of the silliest things I’ve ever done, and I’m so proud of it.

It’s a party song that only could’ve been written in the summer of 2022. Our biggest inspirations were Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” and Fettes Brot’s “Schwule Mädchen.”

After considering many other bad band names (Bone Folder, Nettes Toast, Mello Vanello, Grace of Bass), when I proposed Bodega Crush, it was an instant yes. Bodega Crush is an acronym of my own name that I discovered in 2003 while taking Eric May’s letterpress class at Kent State. Kevin asked me, “Were you saving it for anything?” I replied, “Apparently this!”

I don’t know if we’ll hear back from Germany’s Eurovision selection committee — our song is currently just under 4 minutes, which is a minute too long for the show. (But we are open to edits! Call us, NDR!) But we’re having a hell of a time giving it all we’ve got.

German lyricsEnglish lyrics
Willst du Party machen?
Willst du fett feiern?
Kumpel, pack dein Zeug ein
Wir fahren ins Berghain
Sofort aus Wanne Eickel
Für 9 euro nach Berlin
Bisse bräsig in der S-Bahn
Knapp 9 Stunden geht’s dahin
Durch Herne, Castrop-Rauxel
Kamen, Hamm und Ahlen
Gütersloh und Bielefeld [gibt’s doch]
Haste, Wunstorf, Seelze
Lehrte, Dedenhausen
Gifhorn, Fallersleben
Stendal und Rathenow
[kostenloser Bürgertest]

Wir wollen nicht mehr warten
Jetzt ist uns’re Zeit
Zweiundzwanzig, wenn schon, denn schon
Wir steigen ein!

Wir wollen Party machen
Wir wollen fett feiern
Erstmal brauchen wir den Strich
Und dann erst geht es rein
Aber kostenlose testen
kostet 14 euro 90?
Aber bitte boah, wie viel
Kohle gibt man denn in Berlin aus

Du willst Party machen?
Du willst fett feiern?
Dicker, mach dein Handy aus
Kein posten auf der Timeline
Wir stehen erst in der Schlange
Sie meint, ihr gefällt meinen Style
Brudi, was willst du machen
Wenn so eine Dame möchte doch vorbei
Ja, ihre Besties auch
Lass’ die ganze Truppe rein
wir sehen uns drin
wenn Sven sagt Bescheid
nach dem kostenlosen Bürgertest

Na “Heute leider nicht”?
Dann zurück nach Wanne Eickel
Mit dem 9 euro ticket
Wieder in der Sbahn fahren wir weiter

[Ja, die Fahrscheine bitte]
Neun euro ticket, ham wir alle
[Naja, es ist jetzt der 1. September
das wird dann je 60 euro]
Do you wanna party?
Do you wanna go hard?
Bro, pack up your stuff
We’re going to Berghain
Immediately from Wanne Eickel
For nine euro to Berlin
Little unruly in the S-Bahn
It’s gonna take 9 hours
Through Herne, Castrop-Rauxel
Kamen, Hamm und Ahlen
Gütersloh and Bielefeld
Haste, Wunstorf, Seelze
Lehrte, Dedenhausen
Gifhorn, Fallersleben
Stendal and Rathenow
[free citizens test!]

We can’t wait anymore
Now is our time
‘22, do it to it
Let’s get going!

We want to party
We want to go hard
First we need a swab
And then we can go in
But free testing
costs €14.90?
Jeez, how much money you spend in Berlin!

Do you wanna party?
Do you wanna go hard?
Dude, turn off your phone
No posting on the timeline
We’re standing in line
And she’s like I like your style
Bro, what are you gonna do
When a cutie wants to get by?
Yeah, her besties, too
Let the whole group through!
See you inside
If Sven gives the OK, after the
free citizens test!

So “not today”?
Then back to Wanne Eickel
With the nine euro ticket
We’ll arrive again at 9 in the morning

[Yes, tickets please]
Nine euro ticket, we all got it
[Yes but today is the first of September]
That will be 60 euro each

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