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‘The Bark Side’ and Other German Funny Business

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Germany used to want to rule Europe.

Now Europe is hoping Germany can save it, which may bring some Germans a certain amount of...wait for it...Schadenfreude.

Still, we often view Germans as stern, humorless, efficiency freaks who rarely fail.

Think Angela Merkel.

Perhaps that's not a fair characterization.

Here are three examples this week that Germans can be funny, crazy, and fail.

GERMANS ARE FUNNY?

After last year's extremely popular Super Bowl commercial showing a little boy as Darth Vader, German carmaker Volkswagen is back with an ad that takes the "Star Wars" idea light years further. In a teaser called "The Bark Side", Vader's theme is belted out by a canine chorus. Chewbacca has never been so adorable. The ad was created by the appropriately named "Deutsch LA" in California.

GERMANS ARE WACKY?

Think Germans are uptight? You haven't been to Berlin's Fashion Week. Local designers Alexandra Fischer-Röhler and Johanna Kühl have grabbed Uber-attention with a wedding gown that leaves little to the imagination. It's basically a G-string and bikini top with a sort of mosquito net for a veil. "Here's a wedding gown that says 'I Do' to pretty much everything," says a website called IfItsHipItsHere.com.

GERMANS #FAIL?

News broke this week that Bonn-based SolarWorld really stepped in it with its annual Christmas card. With the solar industry flaring up over allegations that Chinese panel makers have undercut the competition and dumped panels on the world market, SolarWorld's card shows a caricature of some guy with a Fu Manchu in a Santa outfit shrugging his shoulders. Racist much? The card, in German, is a "wish list" for customers which includes things like best price, highest quality, and German jobs. SolarWorld has apologized for the card, but Ocean Yuan, the Chinese American CEO of Grape Solar in Oregon, has fired off a letter to politicians to distance themselves from the firm’s US arm over this "blatantly racist card and disgraceful caricature attack on the Chinese."

Speaking of old WWII foes turned American BFFs...

One last bit of funny business. The Japanese have come up with a new way touse biometrics to prove one's identity. Who needs iris or thumbprint scans when you can sit on your bum? "A team of Japanese scientists claim their pressure sensor sheet can accurately identify an individual's backside," reports The Jakarta Globe (my go-to source for this kind of thing). "When placed on a driver's seat (it) could be used as a last line of defense to stop someone else driving away your motor." There is a crack in this theory, however. "The recognition tends to be compromised by different clothes...sensors read different signals from a pair of trousers and a pair of jeans." You may have to drop your drawers for the sake of security, but this isn’t unusual for anyone subjected to a TSA patdown.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

Humor