Wiener schmäh

It’s well-known that the Viennese have a particular and biting sense of humor. Elevating a sarcastic wit to a coffeehouse art form known as ‘wiener schmäh’. Alongside this Vienna has a long and celebrated history of cabaret. It originated most likely in France before spreading across Europe in the 19th century. It was a kind of entertainment that appealed to the masses. It was a way to bring social commentary and political critique through satire to a broader public.

The oldest cabaret that continues to be in operation in Vienna is the Biercabaret Simplicissmus. Today we know it as ‘Simpl’. It opened its doors on October 25, 1912 and has remained in operation since then. Located in the Wollzeile in the 1st district, it took its name from a satirical newspaper in Munich. It continues to have a bulldog designed by Koloman Moser as its logo.

‘Bulli’, as the dog is known, was taken to be an apt symbol for the cabaret on account of the fact that he “raunzend bellte, aber niemanden ins Wadl biss” (incessantly barks but doesn’t bite anyone in the calf). Whether such famous personalities of the Simpl stage as Karl Farkas, Otto Schenk, or Michael Niavarani are really all bark and no bite is open for debate. If you find yourself in the 1st district, drop by and see for yourself!

Make sure to check out our private tours, if you are interested in Vienna’s history. You can also follow us on Instagram for daily updates about all things Vienna.

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