Admired by Brecht, yet also counting Hitler among his fans, the German cabaret performer Karl Valentin remains an enigmatic figure for most English-speaking theatre people; and his accommodation as a licensed jester during the Nazi years has reinforced the received wisdom that his comedy was ultimately offering reassurances of their own supremacy to bourgeois audiences. Here, Oliver Double and Michael Wilson outline Valentin's life and career, and offer an analysis of his performance style closely linked to two of his best-known routines, which are here also translated for the first time into English. They conclude that Valentin's idiosyncratic style of surreal logic had an effect akin to that of Brecht's Verfremdung, of making the familiar strange, and so, while often extremely funny in its unexpected dislocations, never offering a simple view either of comedy or of life. Oliver Double worked as a comedian for ten years on the alternative comedy circuit, was formerly proprietor and compère of Sheffield's Last Laugh Comedy Club, and is the author of Stand-Up! On Being a Comedian (Methuen, 1997). Currently he lectures in Drama at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Mike Wilson, whose background is in community theatre, is now Professor of Drama and Field Leader for Performing Arts and Film at the University of Glamorgan. He has published widely on varying aspects of storytelling practice and, in particular, on teenage storytelling culture, notably in Performance and Practice: Oral Naratives Among Teenagers in Britain and Ireland (Ashgate, 1997). His latest book, Theatre, Acting, and Storytelling will be published by Palgrave in 2004.