I was thinking today about just why it is that it felt so relaxing on Saturday to converse in English, even with strangers. I consciously try to avoid this while learning a language, but sometimes it is just SO wonderful. One of the conclusions I came to was that a lot of it had to do with humour. I am very fond of a little witticism within conversation, and particularly appreciate wordplay, and of course this is utterly beyond my level in German at the moment, and goes straight over my head. I miss the simplest jokes, and of course very seldom attempt to make them, as experience has taught me that even a slightly risqué word can, in the wrong (i.e. my) hands, be disastrous.
The result is that one is forever weighing the consequences of one's words, meaning that light banter becomes invariably clunky, jokes crash to the floor, and clichés sprout unchecked. In sum, being witty and urbane in a newly-unveiled foreign language is well-nigh impossible.
Which makes me incredibly thankful that my first job of work over here has been so funny! Farce doesn't need language; physical comedy unites us performers without the need for explanations of the subtext (bottom jokes rarely have a serious subtext anyway), and I've done enough work on the text to know exactly what everyone's saying and pretty much why it's amusing. Naturally, the laughs from the onlookers sometimes come at utterly unexpected moments, but frankly I've found that this happens in all productions, even those in English - something to do with the nature of humour, I suspect.
All the above musings were brought to a head tonight when I found myself for the *second* time in an accidentally-horribly-pornographic position on top of the soprano, my erstwhile daughter, and the entire rehearsal ground to a halt due to all the cast sobbing with laughter. You don't get this, I thought, at the bloody Goethe Institut!