Bernhard Victor Christoph Carl von Bülow (short: Vicco von Bülow, born 12 November 1923 in Brandenburg an der Havel), more commonly known under the pseudonym Loriot, is a German humorist, graphic artist, film director, actor and writer.
At Unsere Besten (Our Best) Loriot was ranked the 54th best German ever. In a special comedy episode of Unsere Besten he was ranked as the most famous German comedian ever.
Vicco von Bülow comes from the old German aristocratic von Bülow family originally from Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, in modern North-Eastern Germany. In his family's tradition he became a military officer, and was deployed to the Eastern Front for three years during World War II.
Under the name Loriot, in 1971 von Bülow created a cartoon dog named Wum, which he voice acted himself. Wum became the mascot of "Aktion Sorgenkind", a German humanitarian organization. During the Christmas season of 1972 Wum's song "Ich wünsch' mir 'ne kleine Miezekatze" ("I wish I had a little kittycat"), sung in sprechgesang style, became popular enough to remain in the top position of the German pop charts for nine weeks. Wum also appeared in the German show "Der große Preis" ("The big prize"), where he appeared during breaks until the 1990s. Before long Wum was accompanied by the elephant Wendelin, and later by Blauer Klaus ("Blue Klaus"), an alien hovering in with his flying saucer. Loriot wrote, drew and dubbed all of these skits by himself. Each cartoon ended with Loriot asking the viewers to take part in the TV-lottery, which supported the "Aktion Sorgenkind". When the show was dropped, the adventures of Wum and Wendelin ended as well. Today, Wum and Wendelin appear on the final page of the TV magazine "Gong".
The first episode of the TV series "Loriot" was produced in 1976. In six episodes, Loriot presented sketches, usually being the protagonist himself, and short cartoons, drawn by himself.
Loriot had a love of classical music and opera. In 1982 he conducted the humorous gala concert for the 100th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also related to the orchestra's history by kinship (Hans von Bülow, the first chief conductor of the orchestra, was distantly related to Loriot). His narrative version of Camille Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals was repeatedly performed by Loriot with the Scharoun Ensemble, a chamber music ensemble consisting of musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. As a director, Loriot staged the operas Martha (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 1986) and Der Freischütz (Ludwigsburg, 1988). In 1983 Radio Bremen produced the broadcast "Loriot`s 60st birthday" for the broadcast station ARD on the occasion of Loriot's 60st birthday. In 1988 he received the Bavarian Film Award, Special Prize, and in 1993 the Bavarian Film Award, Honorary Award.
Loriot was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wuppertal in 2001. He is honorary citizen of his hometown Brandenburg an der Havel and his chosen home Münsing since 1993. Furthermore, Loriot is a member of the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts (Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste) since that same year and of the Berlin Academy of the Arts (Berliner Akademie der Künste) since 1997. He became honorary professor of theatrical arts at the Berlin University of the Arts in June 2003. He received numerous awards for his performance in TV, movies and other disciplines.
Loriot is an opponent of the German spelling reform of 1996. Loriot and his publishing company “Diogenes Zurich” continue to use the German orthography of the 20th century. At the reading “For the unity of Orthography” organized by Friedrich Denk on 11 October 1997 in Weilheim, Loriot evaluated the so-called “Rechtschreibereform” in his distinctive way: “The spelling reform is absolutely alright”, he said, and after a short pause, added smirkingly: “…if you can’t read or write!”. Loriot is an honorary member of the Council of German Orthography (Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung e.V.) founded in August 2004 in Munich against the German spelling reform (not to be confused with the official Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung). On 30 October 2004, Loriot received the Jacob-Grimm-Award. In his acceptance speech, Loriot welcomed the use of the former orthography by some German newspapers. “Why do politicians decide about the use of our language?”, he criticized.
For the most part, his work deals with problems of communication between individuals. (Loriot: “What I am interested in most of all are people whose communication fails. All that I consider comical results from crumbled communication, from talk at cross purposes.”) His cartoons hinge on the contrast between the presented situation, the dignity displayed by his typically big nosed characters and the picture’s caption. Inevitably one of these elements gets out of line, for example, when he combines the caption “We demand equal treatment of men and women, even if the suckling baby might temporarily lose weight.” with the picture of a bulbous-nosed man breast-feeding a baby in a distinguished manner. The topics of his cartoon are mainly drawn from everyday life, scenes of the family and middle-class society.
The same contrast between absurd situation and dignified behaviour of his characters can be seen in his various sketches and movies.
Loriot’s enormous popularity, his accurate language and sense of comic, which nevers wounds, led to the adoption of a large number of phrases and inventions from the series’s sketches into German common knowledge and everyday speech. Among these are certainly the ‘yodel diploma’, the ‘stone louse’, but also sentences like “With that, you have something of your own!”, “Please, don’t talk right now…”, “Look, a piano! A piano, a piano!” or the laconic, hardly translatable “Ach!?” (basically meaning “Oh, is it?” in English).
In answer to the question of what had most influenced his work, Loriot answered in 2007: "I remember that, when I started studying, I was living between a madhouse, a prison and a cemetery. The location alone explains everything, I think."
Dieter Wedel: "The Germans don't have any sense of humor — the Germans have Loriot!"