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Haider comics get death threats

The Austrian-German comedy duo "Stermann & Grissemann" has received death threats for mocking the death of right-wing leader Jörg Haider and the Austrian public’s emotional reaction to it.

As reported yesterday, thousands of Austrians have called national broadcaster ORF to complain about late-night show "Willkommen Österreich" (Welcome Austria) starring Austrian Christoph Grissemann and his German partner Dirk Stermann.

With quotes like "We also have 1.8 per mille, but we will be aware of what we are doing during the next 50 minutes", the infamous duo caused furious reactions by thousands of viewers. However, the board of directors of market-leading national broadcaster ORF has refused to comment about why the show was broadcast only a few days after Haider died in an automobile accident.

Show producer David Schalko has just revealed that Stermann and Grissemann have received death threats. Schalko said: "There have been death threats against Stermann and Grissemann. One angry caller literally said: ‘If they perform in Carinthia (Haider’s province), they will go home in a wooden coffin.’"

Another outraged viewer posted a comment on the show’s website saying: "I hope both gentleman get nasty diseases – may they never pollute Carinthia with their presence."

In fact, the duo is planning to perform in Carinthian capital Klagenfurt on 11 December, exactly two months after Haider’s fatal crash, as part of an upcoming tour. It has not yet been announced whether the Klagenfurt show will be cancelled.

On "Willkommen Österreich", Stermann – clad in a traditional, brown Carinthian costume – said: "So the clocks have stopped in Carinthia? Would it help to send them watches?"

Reacting to conspiracy theories about Haider’s last hours alive, Grissemann said: "Haider ordered a bottle of water but got vodka instead. That proves he could turn water into vodka!"

The BZÖ’s Gerhard Dörfler, who succeeded Haider as Carinthian governor, said: "If someone dares to call that art, then I am speechless. What they are doing is miserable and has no character."

As "Stermann & Grissemann", Dirk Stermann and Christoph Grissemann have been active on radio, TV and the stage in Austria and Germany since 1991.

Stermann and Grissemann were suspended for a few months in 2001. After the controversial right-wing FPÖ-ÖVP government was sworn in seven years ago, the duo said: "Someone needs to shoot Haider if he is to be stopped."

Peter Westenthaler, the then general secretary of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ),  said the statement was an "appeal for murder".

Last year, the duo sparked controversy with their "Deutsche Kochschau" programme, which mocked traditional German cooking as they used Nazi-related words to explain what they were doing – while preparing dishes like apple-sauce. The different videos of the programme have been watched more than two million times on multimedia platform YouTube.

To watch the "Deutsche Kochschau" clip, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGPGSyCreJA

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