New German comedy series on startups proves not funny

Berlinstartupleaks
Berlinstartupleaks

Most of us will agree there are a lot of ways to make fun of startups. The cliches are rampant: Trendy millennials partying long into the weekend after hard days playing foosball in the office. Macbooks and hoodies. Modern and simplistic office spaces where a vibrant color palette of black, grey and white reigns king.

So it is not all too surprising that someone would decide to create a startup-related comedy show to capitalize on these stereotypes.

That show is Berlin Startup Leaks and that someone is Christoph Sollich, also known as The Pitch Doctor.

As a 27-year-old expat in Berlin, who is just now venturing into the startup environment, there are stereotypes in the video that immediately resonate.

INT: Let’s call it… a hipster cafe, complete with silver macbooks, succulents on the table, modern decor, colorless. Oh, and a bottle of what looks like Club Mate, with a label affixed to the front that says, “Your BRAND here!”

It looks like one of hundreds of cafes scattered about the city where there is a 70 per cent chance (fake statistic) you can walk in and find a freelancer, entrepreneur or documentary filmmaker hunched over a computer working. I’m feeling bold. Let’s up that fake statistic to 85 per cent.

The shot continues with two men, which is also fitting because women founders account for little over 10 per cent of founders in Berlin (real statistic), sitting in front of their macbooks, typing, chatting and boasting about deep data.

The theme continues through the video: Data. Data. Data. It is all about data. Possibly unintentionally clever as startups are enslaved by metrics? I can’t quite tell and I don’t wanna get too metta. That would mean I myself have succumbed into the startup world and can no longer be objective.

Man 1, or shaggy-haired man, goes on to say that deep data is a concept so revolutionary, so incredible that it hasn’t even been seen in US startup hubs, like Silicon Alley or New York.

The great thing about this scene is that even I know it is more common for ideas to be adapted from the US and packaged for Germans than the other way around. Unless we’re talking about digital tech. Is it funny? I’m not so sure.

He isn’t convincing and just seems to be talking about it in order to brag and one-up man 2, or redheaded man, who is sitting next to him. Is this male macho rivalry or startup entrepreneurs networking at its finest? Who can tell? Is there even a difference? I smiled, but didn’t laugh.

The awkward exchange continues with the shaggy-haired man asking the redheaded man if he’s an investor or working for a startup. The redheaded man pauses and says, “I… I know Ashton Kutcher.”

As a native English speaker, I had to laugh. Not because it was particularly funny that he claims to know the famous US actor, but because of the way Kutcher’s name is pronounced: Cut-cher. Instead of Koot-cher. Again, I have no way of knowing if this is intentional or not, but the pronunciation is so German, I had to chuckle.

So in the first 37 seconds of the nearly seven minute video, Berlin Startup Leaks managed to touch on 60 per cent (fake statistic) of the cliches that startups face. At least in my opinion.

The video then cuts to two women sitting on a sofa talking about an intelligent handheld blender, a recent startup venture that is bound to fail. Who needs a blender that sends data to an iphone? Clever.

The rest of the video goes on to touch other cliches: Ageism, co-working spaces, obsession with logos. They circle kick back to Ashton Kutcher: A joke about how everybody knows at least one person who knows him.

It drags on a bit, because let’s be honest, poking fun at startups is low-hanging fruit.

This makes it hard for me to see how this video series will develop past the first four episodes, because before long won’t they be repackaging and rehashing the same cliches we already know? Or am I missing something… Is that the appeal? Is that creative?

The next episode comes out on Tuesday, November 8 and I have to admit that I am curious as to how they’ll attempt to humour us with this next one. I am skeptical it can be done.