Is it a bad thing to be furry

Urban Priol, 49, from Aschaffenburg, and Frank-Markus Barwasser, 50, from Würzburg, are currently sitting in a retreat on a Lower Franconian estate - on October 19 the figure Erwin Pelzig will move into Priol's ZDF "Anstalt '". Roman Deininger and Olaf Przybilla visited them at work.

Southgerman newspaper: Pelzig is a talk show host, theater figure, movie hero. Now he is moving into a fictional asylum. Can a fictional character take it?

Frank-Markus Barwasser: When "Furry Chats" started, TV people told me that it could never work. Then it worked. I never really defined the furry when it came to his biography. Obviously, a lot is possible as a result.

SZ: How do you manage that a Horst Seehofer lets himself go a lot more with you than he probably wants?

Bar water: Maybe he wants it too. Sometimes I do puzzles myself.

Urban Priol: I believe that the high-ranking gentlemen at Pelzig think: He just wants to play. If you ask the Seehofer in a suit and tie: Can you comment on this or that phenomenon, then he will unwind his pre-cut stuff. But if he thinks he can be private now, you can tease completely different things out of him. Contradict me, Frank-Markus, if I get it wrong.

SZ: Pelzig is supposed to move into Priol's institution as a public relations man. Should you rethink the distribution of roles?

Priol: I keep talking, that's my fate.

Bar water: There we already have the first basic conflict: That you say things like a raid, when I am basically thinking: How could you say that now?

SZ: Your move, Mr Barwasser, from BR to ZDF was a political issue.

Bar water: Well, I would have been surprised if they said after almost 20 years of BR work: We don't care if he changes. But it was clear: ARD and ZDF - both are not possible. I wanted to take part in the "Anstalt" and continue my program "Pelzig entertains", in the nationwide program and if possible at an earlier broadcast time than before. The only solution to combine that was to switch.

SZ: May you, Mr. Priol, continue to do the annual review in the BR - despite the improper poaching of bar water?

Priol: The annual review is definitely still available this year. If I don't want to do it again in 2011, that's my decision.

SZ: So the trenches are not that deep.

Priol: Anyway, I never understood the whole tussle about Frank-Markus. I would have expected the attitude from BR: Man, our bar water - now he's also going to ZDF. But I'm too naive about that. This scramble behind the scenes is completely alien to me.

"We complement each other"

SZ: They are completely different types: Mr Priol apparently can't help but always do cabaret.

Priol: I am driven, I would accept that.

SZ: You, Mr. Barwasser, are considered to be brooding - unless you are armed with a corduroy hat and a man's handbag.

Bar water: I think we complement each other. Urban enables his teammate to perform numbers with his pace and the wealth of punch lines in which he does not have to laugh for two minutes. If you have two explainers on stage, that doesn't work - neither does two priols.

SZ: They also invite guests to the institution. Which young political cabaret artists do you appreciate, Mr Priol?

Priol: Do you want to start, Frank-Markus? So, of the young talents, I would first mention Dieter Hildebrandt. But seriously: there are strong young people. The "compulsory ensemble" has developed very well.

SZ: This is the troop around Mathias Tretter from Würzburg. Another Franconian, just like Matthias Egersdörfer, who wins one prize after another. Mr. Priol, Mr. Barwasser: What is actually going wrong in Franconia?

Bar water: I have no explanation for it. One would have to ask Sarrazin: Maybe he knows a defective Franconian gene. When I think about it, maybe I should place a book on this subject at Bertelsmann before Sarrazin does.

Priol: But if you rub yourself against something in Franconia, there is something to it: I have always perceived Aschaffenburg as a Gallic village. The desire to rub oneself was sparked by dumb gates from the Spessart, where one thought: Bürschle, I'll show you.

SZ: Speaking of which: How was it actually with Lech Kaczynski? As a television viewer, you already felt that you were witnessing a minor scandal.

Priol: I didn't feel that way. In the face of this mass concern, I asked myself: What is this about? They pretend to be after a man who was considered a troublemaker of the EU, at whom everyone rolled their eyes when he went to the meeting. And suddenly he is almost transfigured as king. I just said: nobody really wanted to have anything to do with him in Europe. The Polish newspaper Bild then wrote: The comedian describes Kaczynski as a pig. Just translated them like that.

SZ: And then?

Priol: My agency's server crashed. I should have retracted it on Polish state television. It turned out that there is no phrase "no sow cares" in Polish. But is that my fault? I applied for a secret number because people called: I'm a Pole. Tell your father I know.

"Mister Much too much to Guttenberg?"

SZ: You, Mr Barwasser, have often complained on your program about the Social Democrats who have turned you down.

Bar water: Yes, but I have now received signals from the SPD that it might work out. Presumably Sigmar Gabriel didn't get the request at the time, it will have been bitten off by an anteroom stallion: We don't know what, Pelzig, Munich, we don't want to go away. If they don't come any further, I'll just invite Sahra Wagenknecht.

SZ: Is there anyone in the political staff that you like as a guy?

Bar water: Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. For me it is believable. Although it is there in this party.

SZ: Isn't Mr. KT still pretty underrepresented in the institution?

Priol: Mr. Sehr zu Guttenberg? Mr. Much too much to Guttenberg?

Bar water: I prophesy a great future for him here in the institution. We already speculated today: If the CDU messes up Baden-Württemberg, they'll push it forward.

Priol: Unless the Chancellor can find any other dossier through KT. She can put that on the table for him and ask for a little restraint.

SZ: Perhaps Mr Söder will put the dossier on Mr Guttenberg on the table for Mrs Merkel.

Priol: When it penetrates to her.

SZ: Don't you get tired of Merkel's paleness at some point?

Priol: It's not the pallor that upsets me. It is arbitrariness. For five years she has been torturing me with her calculation: Climate protection, nothing brings me anymore, let's leave it.

Bar water: There is a need for clarification for us: Why are we supposedly doing so well when Merkel is so bad?

Priol: You have to ask the Hartz IV recipients how well we are.

SZ: Is there a German politician who inspires you?

Bar water: Michi Glos is said to have said that Guttenberg was a new Kennedy.

Priol: We now have several Kennedys. The Bunte wrote that Christian Wulff and Betsy in Bellevue had something Kennedy-like. There is a great need for Kennedys.

SZ: Has your view of the party still ruling in Bavaria changed?

Priol: The CSU landslide amazed me. Also the zigzag course on the smoking ban, where Seehofer says after the elections: We understand. And after the referendum, he says: It's great that smoking is no longer allowed.

SZ: Do you think the CSU is better or worse today than it was 20 years ago?

Priol: I find them completely uninteresting. She is just there. They still exist.

SZ: The CSU does not play a major role in your programs.

Priol: I think the CSU played too big a role in federal politics. It's a regional party and that's good.

Bar water: In the past it at least provided more grateful enemy images. Sometimes it was too easy for us. There are now a few people there you can talk to. At least they have learned a certain humility in the meantime.

SZ: how could it get so far?

Bar water: The CSU noticed the change in the Free State too late, although as the last party it could still reasonably claim to be a people's party. The immigration from the east, new family structures, they didn’t notice and held onto their white-blue sepulation forever. I think Stoiber has started not to notice these things. He can be happy that he was left on time, so he's out of a lot. Beckstein had to pay for a lot that was not actually his fault.

SZ: You are only defending a Frankish fellow citizen.

Bar water: Sure, that's my defective Franconian gene again.

Priol: A Protestant as Bavarian Prime Minister. That couldn't work.

Bar water: Beckstein was already sympathetic as a person. It was so difficult for the poor to pretend. He didn't want it either, that's Franconian.

Priol: It is not for nothing that Beckstein and Claudia Roth should be on duet. Incidentally, that should give both the CSU and the Greens food for thought.

The challenge: "To give shape to nothing."

SZ: The Greens will soon also be a people's party in Bavaria. Do you have anything else to complain about?

Bar water: Yeah sure, a lot. They want to get rid of the two-stroke engines, those noses. And then I should scrap my Kreidler, or what?

Priol: That's why I took my Vespa to Sardinia a long time ago.

Bar water: They are just doing too well, they absolutely need a topic where they can make themselves unpopular. The response is uncanny to them.

Priol: Not so negative now, you have to give everyone their chance.

SZ: There is a certain potential for conflict with you.

Priol: When we started with the Greens, in the early eighties, the vision was: 20 percent. Now we're there in polls, but we haven't made it.

Bar water: It is now again about the nuclear phase-out, which you actually had already pushed through.

SZ: Mr Priol, you are not behind the scenes of being a Green voter.

Priol: No why?

SZ: Are you also a member?

Priol: I have decided on one thing: never to be a member of a party. But maybe something will change from time to time.

SZ: Mr. Barwasser?

Bar water: I have never been a member of any party. I'm not a notorious Green voter either, I've changed a lot.

SZ: Also to the CSU?

Bar water: I said "changed", I wasn't talking about freaking out.

SZ: Mr. Priol, in addition to Bavarian politics, you are certainly also looking at Hessian state politics.

Priol: We used to say: If it gets really dark in Bavaria - seven kilometers and we'll be safe. Then Roland Koch came, and suddenly Hessians asked us for asylum.

SZ: And are you now from Munich, Mr. Barwasser?

Bar water: Almost, I'm in Munich a lot, but I'm still from Würzburg. I have my second home in Munich and have to pay second home tax. As a resident, I am not allowed to park my car. Outrageous. I am considering referring it to the European Court of Justice.

SZ: What were you actually doing on the day when Horst Köhler resigned?

Priol: Almost driven into the guardrail.

Bar water: We sat in the car together. Someone called and asked if we knew who stepped down.

Priol: At first I thought of the Westerwelle, you count on it every hour.

SZ: Wulff seems to be a good successor to you, Mr. Priol. They like to take on the paler ones.

Priol: Yes. That is the big challenge: to give a contour to nothing.

Bar water: Now I have to be careful what I say, I want to get him on my show as a guest.

Priol: Bite resistance!

Bar water: I honestly admit: when I've met someone else after the show over a beer.

Priol: I once stood with Mr. Westerwelle over a glass of champagne, it was also more private. That strengthened my opinion.

Bar water: It really is not easy for some politicians because the system is eating away at ambitions.

Priol: I'll bring Tempo handkerchiefs to the institution, whole Kleenex boxes. (He's almost crying) I've never seen it like that before.

SZ: Do you also have a basic sympathy for Mr. zu Guttenberg?

Priol: Not me. I have never shared the respect for the nobility. Gloria von Thurn und Taxis eradicated that.

SZ: Would you prefer Söder to be Prime Minister instead of Guttenberg?

Priol: Guttenberg becomes chancellor. Prime Minister would be a descent, he does not do that. Maybe the Haderthauer?

SZ: God still has something to do with her.

Priol: Incidentally, with Christian Lindner too. He will soon be the head of the FDP. You think he just passed the seahorse test.

SZ: Mr. Barwasser, can you imagine parting with Furzig?

Bar water: I think so. If I'm still on stage as a furry man when I'm 74, it will be tragicomic. At some point I will say: Now is good.

SZ: And Priol dies a stage death at 90?

Priol: No, at 101.

Bar water: Are there cards already?