Advertising works. Especially in this particular case. When Monika Gruber, cabaret artiste and brand ambassador for Goldsteig cheese, accepted BCN’s invitation to visit the Burda Bar in Munich, the place was packed. Her Wahnsinn [Madness] tour is a complete sell-out; our event gave her fans the chance to see her live for free. Goldsteig has been a BCN customer since 2018 and this was an opportunity to further strengthen the partnership. A range of exciting ideas for working together were discussed at a publishing meeting with Goldsteig and the communications agency Signalwerk, and our client was excited by the diversity of Burda’s brands. Goldsteig ambassador Monika Gruber used the meeting to take a peek behind the scenes of a publishing house, to take a look at the Meine Familie & ich [My Family and Me] kitchen studio and to talk to us about her personal recipes for happiness over a diet Coke and a glass of bubbly.
As a comedian, how did you end up doing cheese adverts?
I grew up on a farm and my dad’s a farmer too. When I got the offer to become a brand ambassador for Goldsteig back in 2016, my dad said he thought it sounded interesting. The company is a cooperative, and the 3,000 dairy farmers also own the dairy between them. My dad reckoned, “You know Monika, it’s worth doing, that is.” And the deal was done (she laughs). And I really am right behind it, because the products are good quality, made from Bavarian milk, and it’s all done without any genetic modification or glyphosate.
Where does the slogan ‘der Kaas könnt’ von mir sein’ [‘I could have made that cheese myself’] come from?
(Laughs). I came up with that with some help from my little niece, who used to sit in her high-chair and munch on ‘Auntie Moni’s cheese’. I like the double meaning it has in German, since I talk a lot of ‘cheese’ as a comedian too. [Kaas is a regional variant of the German word ‘Käse’ (cheese), which is used as a colloquial term for ‘nonsense’.] And apart from anything else, self-mockery is the basis of all humour, so I was really pleased that I was allowed to get involved in designing the concept and the storyboard for the advert. By the way, appearing in the video ad running on a treadmill in silver, four-and-a-half inch Ferragamo high heels was my idea too. That really was a sporting challenge – and a pretty dangerous one at that!
Do you like to keep fit?
Nope, not really. And the gym is torture for me. But I have to exercise a bit, because I’ve had an operation on a disc in my back. I do yoga and Pilates, I spend a lot of time cycling, and I like to go hiking. I’m even a member of a Nordic walking group; sometimes I meet up with them at quarter past seven in the morning.
We know you enjoy good food – are you that disciplined when it comes to eating?
I really stuff myself at breakfast and lunch – starter, dessert, the works. But then I often don’t eat anything else in the evening. I feel better doing that; I can concentrate better on my performances and I sleep better too if I’m not so full. When I come off stage I usually just have a beer and don’t eat anything, but I really have to watch out all the time, because I’m a real sugar junkie – I’d be quite happy eating Prince Regent cake for breakfast.
And what cheese do you most like to nibble on?
Goldsteig’s Mozzarella and Emmental are my favourites. I love sitting around with friends, enjoying good cheese with good bread. I always bring out plenty of ham, olives, salads and a range of spreads as well. If there’s anything left over my guests get a doggie bag to take home with them. A lot of my friends have teenage kids – and of course teenagers all eat like horses anyway!
Apart from that, what other foods make you happy?
My mum’s beef Rouladen (bacon, onion and gherkins wrapped in beef) with Spätzle (fresh egg noodles) – that’s a real taste of home. Otherwise I like spaghetti bolognese, lasagne and warm apple strudel – proper comfort food!
What makes a good host?
You have to be well prepared, cook the tried-and-tested favourite recipes and think about who should be sitting together. And you should invite your guests for an aperitif in the kitchen before the meal. That way, people can have a good chat with a wee glass of something. And anyone who doesn’t want to drink alcohol can have an alcohol-free beer or a Crodino. What I really don’t like is when people load the dishwasher while their guests are still there. I think that’s really bad form. At the end of the day, if you have people visiting, you should give them your undivided attention.
Which guests are you always pleased to see? And which are less welcome?
I am always delighted to see friends, especially if they bring me flowers, Prosecco or a good book! People who turn up unannounced with a great big, stinking dog that then knocks its water all over the floor and spends the whole night running around the table – those people are not so welcome. I get really grumpy about that, although I try not to let it show!
Are those the kinds of everyday situations you can work into your shows?
Of course! In fact, at the moment I’m working on my own series with a character who’s going to go down a storm. I play this bitch from a posh area in Munich who gets some serious Botox injected into her ugly mug. I’m really excited about that project! But from a creative point of view, I really need to take another break next year. I need to experience a bit more of real life so that I have something new to say. For example, I often find myself watching people at train stations. If I just mooch around without my makeup on, nobody recognises me. And if they do, folk never believe it’s actually me. That’s really good fun.
And when do the jokes have to stop for you?
My parents are Catholics, so I am wary of making church jokes – I don’t want them to be ashamed of me. It’s just about showing some respect. And the other thing I don’t like is when people disparage other people or punch too far below the belt.
Is there anything about the state of the world that gets you really worked up?
Intolerance. I really don’t like it when people try to impose their beliefs on other people. It doesn’t matter if it’s vegans or the anti-fur lobby. I mean, I grew up on a farm. I eat animals. I wear animals. And it really gets to me when other people get all dogmatic and start lecturing me. We’ve already taken enough fun out of life, from banning diesel engines to speed limits on the autobahn. You know those electronic boards with the smileys on them when you’re in an area with a speed restriction? I always go a little bit too fast, so I get a red smiley. I just really dislike being pushed to do things.
Speaking of being pushed to do things, things seem to be going really well in your personal life nowadays. What about getting married?
Yeah, I’ve haven’t managed to do that yet in real life, have I? Actually, that’s a great idea for an advert. To be fair, if somebody proposed properly – down on one knee and the whole performance – that would be fab. So never say never!