Berlinterviews Episode One: Kalle Zilske

You’ve just quit your job, sold all of your shit that you’ve collected over the last 5 years, and had one last night at the bar with your new friends from this time in your life. Over beers you told them that you’re moving back to the city where you grew up with the plan to start a completely different life: you were going to be a comedian. Nobody really seemed to be surprised, offered their support and well wishes, and you got in the car and headed back to Berlin.

You quickly found an apartment with one of your best friends growing up. More importantly her apartment already had WIFI; with which you quickly found out there was an open mic in 2 days in a club in Mitte. In the last two days you’ve read non-helpful ‘How to become a comedian in 10 steps’ articles and other similar bullshit, and quickly decided, “fuck it…I’ll just go out there and be me.”

When you arrive at the club you immediately meet the show’s host who informs you that you will be performing at number 2. With the little bit of time that you have you throw down a beer to calm the nerves and go over the general outline in your head that you’ve planned of stories to tell. The host comes back, taps you on the shoulder and says, “you’re up in 5 minutes.”

The comedian before you wraps up, the host comes on stage and tells the crowd the next comedian that will be performing is coming on stage for the first time, and then he says your name. The applause starts…and now it’s time for you to go up there and see if this crazy idea is going to work.

Welcome to the first episode of ‘Real Berlin: Gesichter und Geschichten’, a series in which we interview people from all corners of Berlin to learn their story. Some faces you might already know, most you won’t. They will all have wildly different paths but what they will all have in common is that they intersect here in Berlin, and we’ll try to figure out how and why they do.

Our series starts with Kalle…ein echter Berliner. Born in Lichtenberg, he later moved around the city, living in Neukölln and Wedding. After school he lived the typical Berlin life…had various jobs working as a bartender, manager, gas station night clerk and various other shitty jobs. He spent his free-time with friends (among other things) touring the endless Spätis the city has to offer until the early morning hours.

6 years ago he left Berlin to follow his heart…namely girlfriends. He spent a couple years in Munich with one girlfriend, then moved to Heidelberg with another. In each city he continued his career of bartending jobs and even worked his way up to management.  Life at that time was fun, but after a couple of years though, something just didn’t feel right. Heidelberg and Munich are no Berlin, and it became apparent to him that he needed to return to his Heimstadt. With this return, however, he decided it provided the perfect opportunity for a complete restart.

Kalle was always the guy who friends would ask at parties to tell the same story that they’ve heard 40 times and would laugh every time like it was the first time they’ve heard it. So when thinking about what to do when he got back to Berlin, he thought, “Why not do that for a living?”

The story at the start of this episode happened to Kalle almost 1 year ago. What’s happened since then? Over 100 shows (something that most newcomers take 3-4 years to collect), signed to the Berlin comedy label ‘Hauptstadthumor’, upcoming spots on TV, 2nd place in Quatsch Comedy Clubs’ ‘Quatsch Talentschmiede’ 2018 (it was later found out that the first place winner stole material from various social media channels), and an already established name as a ‘one to watch’ in the comedy scene.

I had the chance to see him live in the Stereo Comedy show in Friedrichshain a couple of weeks ago. Not knowing his backstory at that time, I had no idea that he had only been doing it for the last year as he seemed like a seasoned vet to me. His style of telling stories in the beloved Berliner Art (a style he names ‘Berliner New Age Schnauze’) comes across extremely authentic and you can tell that he almost immediately wins the affection of the crowd. It was an eye-opening experience for me, as I must admit that I had previously thought all German comedians were Mario Barth who make jokes about ‘Frauen sind so…Männer sind so’ and then laugh at their own jokes. At the end of the night it was clear to me why he has made a name for himself so quickly.

When I asked him why he missed Berlin so much we got into a long discussion about how we see Berlin and what it means to us. It is a city that is constantly changing but has somehow always been able to hold on to its character. Only in Berlin can you live in a city almost your whole life and discover a new corner that you’ve never seen with completely different charm. We talked about the freedom of living in a city where nobody really gives a fuck about what you’re doing as long as it doesn’t disturb them. We talked about it being dirtier than other German cities, but that it is just a ploy to keep the Spiesser out of the city as it is never excessively dirty…almost as if the BSR only cleans up half of the garbage just so we maintain a certain ‘defense’ level. Of course there is a lot of shit that is annoying, but he strongly believes the good shit far-and-away outnumbers the bad.

Then he said something that perfectly summed everything up: “If Berlin was a woman, I would love that woman. It would be both the best and worst relationship of my life, but a relationship that I couldn’t live without.”



If you want to see Kalle in the upcoming weeks, so you can tell your friends in a couple of years, “I saw him before…”, you’ll find him at the following shows:


Every Wednesday, 20:30

‘KussKuss Komedy’

@ Deriva Neukölln (–612188885597732/)


First Friday of Every Month, 23:00

‘Niclas, Kalle & Friends’

@ Mad Money Room (


Saturday 25.8.2018, 20:30

‘Best of Chips und Joghurt Komedy’

@Du Beast Neukölln (


Thursday 4.10.2018, 20:30

Doppel Solo mit Kalle & Phillip Uckill

@ Mad Money Room (


Wednesday, 31.10.2018, 20:00

‚Nightwash Talent Award 2018: Semifinal 1’ (im Rahmen des Köln Comedy Festivals)

@ Eco-Express Waschsalon (more info and live streaming at


Monday, 5.11.2018, 20:00

‚Nightwash Talent Award 2018: Semifinal 2’ (im Rahmen des Köln Comedy Festivals)

@ Eco-Express Waschsalon (more info and live streaming at


Thursday 8.11.2018,  20:00???

‚Nightwash Talent Award 2018: Finale (im Rahmen des Köln Comedy Festivals)

@ Eco-Express Waschsalon (more info and live streaming at


He adds shows constantly, so it’s a pretty good idea to just follow him on Instagram @kallekomedy so you can find out what he’s up to daily.