Humour, criticism, political views and spicy paprika come together in this Cabaret series from the end of 1950s Hungary.
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.
This scene called The Hungarian immigrant offers Eastern-block cynicism of western capitalism. The scene is set in a busy factory, the noise of machines, sirens in the background are too harsh. Three men are in an empty room, where crates offer uncomfortable seating during work-break. The intent of the writer is absolutely clear: to praise socialist welfare system over the poor welfare system the west offers.
The Hungarian immigrant
Jack (enters): Hey, Dick, come sit next to me! Here, let’s have lunch together. (Sits down. In the back, the Hungarian immigrant enters.)
Dick (sits down): All right, Jack. Hey, look at that new boy, that Hungarian guy. He looks like he’s looking for something.. Hey, boy, what are you looking for?
Hungarian (comes closer): Want eat my lunch. Where dining room?
Jack (laughs): Ha, the dining room? Are you kidding? Do you hear this, Dick? Don’t you think he’s funny?… Come on, sit down here, Funny Face!
Dick: Too bad I can’t enjoy his humour. For three days I’ve had such a bad toothache, it’s driving me crazy.
Hungarian: Toothache? Must go to NHS, Comrade! (Pulls at teeth.)
Hungarian: To national health service, where dentist pulls tooth for free.
Dick: Yeah, for free! You mean dentist for free? You’re kidding me…
Hungarian (changes subject, points finger at woman in corner): That woman there. Why she work?
Jack: She’s working to earn money.
Hungarian: But why? She soon have baby. Why she still work?
Jack: I don’t understand you. What should she be doing?
Hungarian: Why she not take maternity leave?
Jack: Yeah, great, maternity leave! Why not go straight to a wellness resort centre to give birth, right?
Hungarian: Yes, of course!
Jack: Hear this, Dick? This guy is not kidding at all… He’s no Funny Face! I think oppression got into him and he’s lost his mind…
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