The sketch "Dinner for One," recorded in 1963 by two little-known British comedy actors, is virtually unheard of in Britain but has Germans in stitches once a year when it is broadcast on TV as part of the staple New Year's Eve schedule.empty table for a grand 90th birthday banquet with imaginary, long-dead guests who each have to be played by the hapless butler James. He gets steadily more drunk because he has to join her in toasts in his various roles as the dinner progresses.
That's the joke, plus a bit of slapstick as James keeps tripping over the head of a tiger skin. This year, though, the sketch has been reinvigorated with topical satire thanks to a digitally doctored version featuring Chancellor Angela Merkel as Miss Sophie barking orders at a sycophantic James in the form of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The "Merkozy" Dinner for One spoof, called "The 90th Rescue Summit or Euros for No One," cleverly plants the heads of Sarkozy and Merkel on the bodies of the original actors. It was created for ARD television by a German satirist, Udo Eling, and has become a YouTube hit.
In the Internet, at least, it has proven far more popular than Merkel's own New Year message to the nation in which she told Germans to prepare for a tough 2012. She got just a few thousand clicks for her trouble -- compared with 750,000 hits for the spoof clip on YouTube alone. On television, though, Merkel got almost 6 million viewers.
'Don't Forget -- Europe is Speaking German!'
"Get on with it," Merkel tells butler Sarkozy, who stands obediently by her side waiting for orders, "or your AAA rating will only apply to your watered-down champagne."
"You look richer than ever," Sarkozy oozes, adding "I'm a brown nose" and raising his glass in another toast. "To the euro, Mistress!"
Sarkozy has to stand in for absent leaders who have lost their jobs in the euro crisis, including Greece's Giorgios Papandreou and Spain's Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is represented by the tiger skin, who according to the voiceover "is no longer a tiger but still lies in the way."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, absent in his own way after casting his veto at the December European Union summit, is also among Merkel's imaginary guests. "Don't forget," Merkel tells him, "Europe's speaking German!"-- a reference to a controversial remark made by one of her allies in November, to the annoyance of British politicians.
In the end, disturbingly, Sarkozy leads Merkel upstairs for his final duty of the night, agreeing to refrain from using euro bonds and promising a sterling performance with the words: "I'll give triple-A."