When I was a child, it was a certainty, especially abroad, that Germans had no sense of humor. Even back then, this claim seemed implausible to me; after all, my favorite humorists came from exactly there: the old Federal Republic. I loved everything by Loriot, adored Hape Kerkeling’s anarchist sketches, and found Heinz Erhardt’s puns brilliant. One of the greatest sentences comes from the Hamburg cabaret artist who was already dead when I started watching his films, which, even without the fun factor, is a piece of wisdom: “You mustn’t believe everything you think!”

The German language seems to have been designed to be used for jokes; many poets and humorists have risen to this challenge brilliantly. So as a child I developed the abnormal behavior of happily memorizing poems. Preferably those by Christian Morgenstern (“A weasel, sitting on a pebble, in the middle of a stream”), Joachim Ringelnatz (“Two ants lived in Hamburg who wanted to travel to Australia”), Robert Gernhardt (“I want to praise you, ugly thing, You have something so reliable”) or the Austrian Ernst Jandl (“Some people think it’s good and bad, you can’t change it”).

This genre has found a worthy heir in the cabaret artist Bodo Wartke, who has succeeded in transferring the principle of the tongue twister from speech therapy guides into a digital entertainment format. His “Big Roofer” already collected hundreds of thousands of clicks. Now the cheerful rap “Barbara’s Rhubarb Bar”, which he recorded with the great musician and parodist Marti Fischer, has triggered a worldwide trend. All sorts of “dance influencers” are hopping to the German rhymes on TikTok and Instagram. Quite certainly, without even remotely knowing the many reminiscences that the song contains.

And there are many of them: the original text of “Rhubarb Barbara” is a classic of speech training, Wartke and Fischer add the French cartoon characters of the Barbapapas from the 1970s, the magical “Aberakdadabera” by Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung, as well as the nonsensical children’s song about the “Three Chinese Men with the Double Bass”. Max Goldt may even be greeting from the background, who once demanded: “Barbara, make your husband banana and rhubarb jam salad”.

It’s amazing who swings their hips to this little playful joke and a choreography that two dancers from Sydney came up with: This morning alone, I was shown the clips of top model Rebecca Mir with her All Stars as a reel, “Sally” Özcan with the home-baked rhubarb cake in hand, a troupe of Munich basketball players, the Canadian dance star Alex Wong, and a carnival performer named “Jack The Wipper” from Boston, Massachusetts, who is famous for snapping hits with a circus whip.

Fischer and Wartke obviously can’t really explain why their song has become a viral megahit. “Because he spreads a good mood,” Wartke speculates in the stern interview. “You can hear and see our joy in the language and the dance. This is transmitted across national borders.”

What this trend is currently bringing to the world should not be underestimated. Germany is not exactly known for its good mood at the moment. International media primarily report on the country’s economic crisis and the advance of right-wing extremists. The New York Times recently published a harsh article entitled “How Germany Became Evil,” which denounces the country’s solidarity with Israel.

Now “Barbaras Rharbarberbar” is anything but a political song, and that is precisely its strength. “The song helps to break down prejudices because people notice that we Germans can have a sense of humor and that our language does not have to sound aggressive,” says Wartke. “In this sense, we are also contributing to international understanding.” One should not burden the Internet hit with too much, but this one pious wish is allowed. One can be a little grateful to the two fun artists Wartke and Fischer, because their work stands for something that the Germans have always been able to do: to be cheerful despite everything, to face the seriousness of our times with humor. Even though it is only May, a little touch of summer fairy tale wafts through these clips. That little bit of lightness that we all need.