Bengt Washburn lived in Germany for several years while his wife was stationed there with the U.S. military. While the Washburn clan moved back to the U.S. last year, Bengt recently did a series of shows for the troops in Europe. Before his gig this week at Acme Comedy Co., City Pages tracked him down via Skype in Belgium.
How did this tour come about?
I did military shows when I was living in Germany. Some people saw me and, eventually, after I moved back home, they wanted me to come back and do shows for the troops and bases over here. I took a few comics with me, so I’ve got Steve Reynolds and David Crowe along.
How many different countries are on the itinerary?
It’s like seven cities in Germany, then Kosovo, the Netherlands, Belgium, and a couple of bases in England. We’ve already done the U.K. Pretty much all over Europe.
So a lot of the material is geared toward military audiences?
Yes, that’s what we’re doing. This week it’s military-themed material and about being in a military family, and next week at Acme it’s all new material. Well, not all new, but I’ll be doing about 30 minutes of new stuff.
What was Kosovo like?
We went into kind of the downtown. It was interesting. It’s beat up a bit. There’s an Islamic and Christian community living side by side in Kosovo. They do like Americans. They’re pretty happy that we are there. They have a high school called Bill Clinton High School in Kosovo. There’s a big banner with his face on it. That whole country is pretty happy with him.
Is it remarkably different from other parts of Europe?
When you go to Kosovo you’re like, "Man, I’m glad I live in America." And when you come to Germany you think, "I wish I lived here, sort of." I really like what they do [in Germany], and I could see myself living there, but Kosovo you feel grateful for living in America. You’re grateful for your country, the infrastructure, the laws, and just the way we don’t just chuck garbage out the window, which is kind of nice. It’s cleaner and nicer in America, but then you come to Germany and you’re like, "Wow, why we can’t we do it like they do it here?" You know how they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Well, our grass is definitely greener than Kosovo’s, but in Germany you’re like, “Gee, I’d like this grass. It’s so much greener." Same thing with Belgium and the Netherlands and Britain. I just think they’re doing things really well right now.
How is the rest of Europe feeling about America these days?
They are shocked by Trump. These are nations that lived through eight years of Bush, and Trump shocks them. It’s a fast decline. That’s a new joke I have: What I like about Trump is that when they take a poll, he gets a number. Like, he has 26 percent of the poll. What I like about that is it’s an exact mathematical percentage of how screwed we are. We’re 26 percent screwed.
Donald Trump. He is America’s rectal thermometer. You stick it in there and yep, it’s really bad.
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 N. First St., Minneapolis
8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 Friday and Saturday
Call 612-338-6393 or visit www.acmecomedycompany.com for tickets.