The first film of the Augsburger Puppenkiste was broadcast 70 years ago. Tom Böttcher is now helping the puppets on TikTok to regain popularity.
You probably don’t know the two women in the photo from 1957. But the beings at the other end of the strings do: Urmel from the ice, the Sams, the little king Kalle Wirsch – the figures the Augsburger Puppenkiste. And it’s celebrating an anniversary: 70 years ago, ARD broadcast a piece of marionette theater on television for the first time with “Peter and the Wolf”. Numerous pieces followed – the most well-known: “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver“.
But in the meantime the television stations have lost interest in puppetry. Wrongly so, thinks Tom Böttcher. The 28-year-old actor has recently become a social media star thanks to the Puppenkiste. On the video portal Tiktok he mimics the whimsical movements of the puppets. He wanders through the picture with flabby limbs and a blank stare, makes himself coffee, chats with the neighbors, accompanied by the iconic music from “Jim Button”..
Wochentaz: Mr. Böttcher, aren’t puppet shows far too boring to inspire young people?
Tom Boettcher: I thought so too at first. Especially on Tiktok, where the audience is quite young, nobody knows that anymore! I was surprised at how well the first videos were received.
your videos sometimes have hundreds of thousands of likes. Where does this enthusiasm come from?
I think it brings back deep-seated memories for many. Many associate the sound of the “Jim Button” music and the aesthetics of the Puppenkiste with their childhood. Since October I have probably had around a thousand messages in which people tell me how happy my videos make them. That touches me a lot.
What do you personally associate with the Augsburger Puppenkiste?
I was a huge fan as a kid. I can remember exactly how I sat in front of our tube TV night after night and watched those VHS tapes. I also completely internalized the movements of the dolls. In order to shoot the Tiktok videos, I didn’t have to watch the videos again.
How did you come up with the idea?
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I’ve always had great fun imitating others. Maybe that’s why I became an actor. And I imitated the dolls from the Puppenkiste as a small child. I just wanted to try something new Tiktok was for it the perfect platform because with the right content you can reach a lot of people in a very short time. Nobody knows me there, so I can post something experimental there.
What is your favorite Augsburger Puppenkiste film? “Schlupp vom Grünen Stern”. It’s about a robot that can only be brought to life by being stroked.