As the coronavirus disease is making us stay at home these days, we picked an old Hungarian cabaret scene that describes life in an apartment house in 1958 Budapest. Home, sweet home might sound ironic, but we all need a little laugh nowadays.
Pesti paprika on radio
In 1958 the Hungarian Radio broadcast a three-part cabaret series under the name Pesti paprika. The cabaret scenes are sassy, witty and funny and they give a whole new meaning to the terms “paprika” and “spice”. According to the cabaret host, Pesti paprika is a lot older than Szegedi paprika, it is as old as Buda and Pest. It is rooted in asphalt. It grows in apartment houses and offices. On concrete floors of factories and in smoke-filled coffee houses. Pesti paprika is the toughest plant in the world. It flourishes in heat and frost. No fire, flood, earthquake or war can do any harm in it. It is like a jungle plant: it grows speedily and it spreads everywhere. Pesti paprika is very similar to Szegedi paprika as both are spicy and hot. They only differ in the way people use them. Paprika from Szeged is food-seasoning, whereas Paprika from Pest seasons LIFE itself. Pesti paprika is humour and spirit. Pesti Paprika Cabaret stories are brought to you by PaprikaMolnár’s Paprika Museum.
Home, sweet home
The radio reporters of “Pesti paprika” are visiting a non-sensational premise: an old apartment house in Budapest. Against the grey background of 1958 life that life-seasoning we call pesti paprika is even more vivid and colourful. It is bright red.
An apartment house in 1958 Pest was a rental complex. It looked dreary, war-torn and run-down. It had a warden who did house managerial duties like cleaning, repairs and heating in return for a small apartment within the complex. Human relations within were complicated and conflicts of interests were multiplex. A place like that for a comedian is an inexhaustible source of humour.
“Let’s look at the conflict of interests between the house warden and the residents. The resident would like to live in peace. For the warden life is constant fight. The resident would like to spend their evening in a warm and cosy room. The warden hates heating. The warden hates everything, especially what belongs to the resident. He hates his child, dog, fiancé, fiancée and his leaky waterpipes. The warden likes quiet whereas the resident is noisy. The resident cries when there’s no water and cries when the water overflows. He cries when the elevator doesn’t work and cries when it works and gets stuck for an hour between two floors…
Neighbour relationships may also be a source of humour. I’ve just heard Mr Smith angrily complaining to his neighbour:
– Hey, man! You’ve been digging a tunnel into my coal cellar and you’ve been stealing my coal throughout the winter!
– How interesting! I thought I discovered a coal mine!”
We’d like to encourage you to stay at home and take good care, everyone. Thanks for reading.
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