The Viennese themselves are rather morbid. No matter what he says, his dialect gives every thesis, no matter how steep, a soft touch of coffee house and the Habsburg monarchy. Helmut Qualtinger’s “Herr Karl” got its dangerous charm from this, and Lisa Eckhart posed in front of an audience with her “metrical tactlessness”, made up like a craft product. Between the clumsy Qualtinger and the smug, smug Lisa Eckhart, Josef Hader seems pretty lost. Maybe it’s age, at the end of fifties you inevitably get caught between all fronts of the zeitgeist.

His cabaret solo programs (five so far) do not fit into any scheme, have no thesis, no target group and actually no choreography. He has obviously been preoccupied with himself since his first program “Hader privat” in the mid-1990s. In other words: How do you survive as an independently thinking person in Austria? By trying again and again to swim to the safe shore. In a country as little maritime as Austria, however, this is a rather hopeless endeavor. Jumping is better for such notorious dry swimmers – from one state of consciousness to another, from reality to the surreal.

Listening to quarrels is like a never-ending roller coaster ride – and anyone who does not jump along as a listener is lost in this torrent of associations, volts and sottisen. The performance artist Hader, now with a Corona makeshift program at the Berlin cabaret theater “Die Wühlmäuse”, is initially an artist who refuses to perform. He drags himself onto the stage with little relish, apparently something always hurts him, and begins to read out what is written down on loose sheets of paper, soon interrupts himself again with: “Have I already said that?”

For Hader, distance is a matter of instinct – you can like many things, but people? For Hader, this is a full-length topic. A virus like the one with the illustrious name Corona should actually be an ally for him. No more shaking hands, least of all hugs, you almost never have to leave your apartment – ideal times for misanthropes. Unfortunately, viruses are not ironic per se. However, in contrast to the common influenza virus, which does its work more in secret, the coronavirus seems to have a narcissistic tendency: It is constantly pushing itself into the foreground in the media. But other things inevitably take a back seat, undeservedly.

Hader bluntly expresses what many city dwellers think outside of their habitat: You only go there to earn money and then quickly leave! In the Weinviertel near Vienna the world is anything but intact, but at least the alcohol is cheap. And what would creative people be without alcohol? A desert in which no more ideas bloom. Hader’s one-man shows have always lived in multiple breaks, so that as a viewer you run the risk of completely losing your bearings.

»Hader plays Hader« is the 90-minute short version of his five previous programs with all kinds of contemporary sprinkles. It has something of a hastily produced sampler with the title »Corona Edition«. Creative chaos of a loose-leaf collection, in which the lecturer can get lost in the dark forest. Even his first solo program “Hader privat” over 20 years ago drifted off into the irretrievably surreal in seemingly inappropriate places. You were just sitting in the sauna, then suddenly you were in hell with Adolf Hitler. You should be damned careful who you let the infusion do.

Infection is contact that you do not want, an uninvited visit that is difficult to get rid of. Kind of like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although prayer is otherwise a reliable help against the virus. If you firmly believe in God – and gargle with disinfectants and combine intermittent fasting with bioresonance therapy – this cannot harm you, Hader is sure. In general: Meditation makes life easier, Hader believes. For example, when one, bored by small talk, drifts successfully into another metaphysical state, but still gives the impression of concentrated listening to the outside world.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have good news: Did he know that he was personally saved and that he was going to heaven with 144 righteous people? Of course, those who do not know that are blind to connections. “But, I said, Witness, there is even worse to come: the earth’s magnetic field is a gigantic hard drive where everything is stored, good and bad deeds. Don’t you know that? ”At this point, the Jehovah’s Witnesses fled, says Hader.

They are relegated at a high level who like to pass their creeping slide from the middle class as a voluntary renunciation: »I don’t need anything. If I’m in a hurry, take a helicopter, nothing else. ”As a club vacationer, he lies“ deeply relaxed ”in Sri Lanka with an aromatic oil massage, in the distance the explosions of terrorist attacks roar:“ I’m so balanced. ”That is what Hader conveys, no matter where or how it occurs: the horror of our idea of ​​normality. That started with “Hader privat” with the “Nöchling elementary school” or “Back then in Niedermair” – the sheer state of emergency that continues to this day. The normal is absurd and the absurd is normal.

Conceit dies last. Life humiliates us all the time; but to pass this off as good news, that is the challenge that Austria is particularly brave about. Hader has cultivated this principle for a long time in his films, legendary as a sad representative in Paul Harather’s “India” or – on his own – in “Wilde Maus”, which ran in the Berlinale competition two years ago. Hader in a brilliant role as a resigned Viennese opera critic who confronts his newspaper boss with all the restarrogance he has left: “There will be a revolt of the readers!” The answer: “Your readers are long dead.” Silence.

It’s difficult to do alone. But Hader is not alone in his exile in the Weinviertel, after all he has “pack”, his wolf, his “dark self”. With Rudel, who is not a dog, but a proud wild animal that presumably only exists in his imagination, he fearlessly confronts the hostile world. Regardless of whether it’s plague or prohibition. Although the latter would be the ultimate disaster and the sure end of Rudel, the loyal companion.