It is a well-known claim that women can multitask and men can’t. However, for decades, there has been no scientific proof to substantiate this statement. Indeed, some men are keen to rebut it and they do it in earnest. Of late, some men have shown that they are able to multitask, and multitask well. If there are two people who can play the piano and change their clothes at the same time, it has to be the duo from Germany known as Ass-Dur. These young comedians-musicians have proven that they are not only able to perform multiple tasks but are also able to make a living with their unusual talent.
Ass-Dur hails from Berlin and comprises two men, Benedikt and Dominik. Although they appear to be an inseparable pair, the two men cannot be more different from each other.
Benedikt is refined, dresses well and speaks well. Dominik seems to be Benedikt’s alter ego: He is crass, dresses sloppily and does not usually utter more than three words at a time. For all their differences, though, Benedikt and Dominik make a fantastic pair and their presence on the stage cannot be understated.
From the time these two gentlemen appear to the time they finish their stints, the audience is completely bowled over by their humour. They are hopelessly funny and they give a compelling performance that does nothing but display their innate talent in all its glory.
Benedikt and Dominik did their now-famous clothes-changing show in a programme that was broadcast on German television in March 2009. The performance started innocently enough, with the pair playing their respective low and high keys on a classical piano.
The audience got their first hint that something was not quite right when Dominik turned to the audience and gestured in an unusual sign. Before long, Benedikt got the ball rolling when he started to undress himself.
He and Dominik took turns at changing out of their clothes, ensuring that at any one time, at least one person had his hands on the piano. Throughout the five minutes of performance, in which the audience was treated to evergreen classics like Beethoven’s Fur Elise, Richard Clayderman’s Ballade Pour Adeline, Mozart’s Turkish March and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Major, K545, those present also witnessed seemingly impossible feats, like that of Dominik playing his high keys while lying flat on the piano bench, facing upwards, as Benedikt helped him with his shoes, and another in which Benedikt effortlessly slipped into his new shirt strategically placed behind him.
There was a scene which saw Dominik play the recorder, held in place by his helpful companion. The duo was equally adept at putting their props to good use. The audience in the front row was thrilled when, in the midst of the familiar notes of Fur Elise, Benedikt conveniently flung Dominik’s brown sock in their direction. The movements were clearly highly-coordinated and well-rehearsed, as Benedikt complemented Dominik’s Fur Elise with strokes of the high keys with his white hankerchief, not once but twice.
Another interesting performance took place in Munich as part of the duo’s music-comedy programme “1. Satz Pesto”. To much laughter, the comedians took their place behind the piano, gazed at pornographic magazines and not-so-surreptitiously took off their pants, before proceeding to play some well-known pieces without their hands.
Which part of their bodies actually touched the keys was anybody’s guess, but the pair managed to have the audience laugh with their awkward body movements as they swayed from left to right and back, their hands in the air.
At one point, Benedikt panicked when he realised that he was no longer able to punch his lower keys. Help was within reach, though, and he quickly picked up his magazine, regained his much-needed composure and hit the keyboard again. The finale came when both men did the high-to-low-note-glissando, to much applause.
Interestingly, another pair of performers pulled off a similar stunt in Greece, You Have Talent (Ellada Eheis Talento), a reality television show that was part of the Got Talent global franchise. The only female judge, Eugenia Manolidou, literally gasped, eyes unblinking and mouth wide open, when the men pulled down their trousers. She then cupped her hands over her mouth and only returned to her normal state when it finally dawned on her that the men were really able to play with their unusual tools.
There is much speculation as to how these talented men actually played their pieces. Whether they deployed their natural assistant or harnessed something artificial, we may probably never know. What do you think?