In the early 80’s, I called up NBC at Rockefeller Center and asked to speak to the talent coordinator for The David Letterman Show (which was then a late night NBC show that followed the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson). A nice lady answered the telephone and asked me what my call was about. I told her that I was a German teacher at The New School in New York City and that I taught many useful language functions to my classes using universally known tunes. As an example, I told her I taught my students how to order schnitzel and beer to the tune of 'When the Saints Go Marching In.’ Well, she laughed and invited me for a get-together.
The next day I met her with my guitar at Rockefeller Center in the NBC cafeteria and taught her my lyric 'Guten Tag, wie geht es Ihnen?’ set to the tune of Frere Jacque:
Danke gut. Danke gut.
Und wie geht es Ihnen? Und wie geht es Ihnen?
When she giggled, I knew I was booked. A week later I sat on David Letterman’s couch and after the short interview, I went up into the studio audience and said, “Ok, we are in Germany. I’m the waiter and you are going to order a beer and a Wiener Schnitzel!”
Since I had limited time to teach the audience without visuals, I did my best to tune out Dave’s endless wisecracking. The NBC band lead by Paul Schaefer played “Oh When the Saints” and the audience sang along:
Bringen Sie mir ein grosses Bier.
Bringen Sie mir ein Wiener Schnitzel
Bringen sIe mir ein grosses Bier.
The audience loved it and they cheered when we sang the song a second time (with David continually cracking jokes in my ear). When the show went to a commercial break, David yelled to the audience “follow your ‘Führer” the waiter, and we’ll march into New Jersey!”