Early January is a bleak time of the year. Overly optimistic resolutions are made, cheerful holiday vibes fade away, and festive snow devolves into perpetual ice drizzle and polar vortexes. But the honorable Hans Beinholtz, German Ambassador to the United Nations and occasional scene-stealing guest on The Colbert Report, can remind us to find the sunshine within the despair.
Beinholtz is played by writer, actor, and legendary New York folk musician Erik Frandsen, who has backed Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, and The Muppets, played with the G.E. Smith band on Saturday Night Live, and written and performed in a host of theatrical productions. He's also appeared in "dozens" of Law & Order episodes and acted as an extra in numerous films, most recently as a barfly in Inside Llewyn Davis. In stark contrast to Frandsen's openhearted musical style, the grimly existentialist Beinholtz is always reliable for an absurd Germany-related segment on Colbert, and he's the perfect foil to Stephen's beamy questioning and blissful ignorance. So to celebrate the symbolic importance of such a physically and emotionally cold time of year, here's a look at Beinholtz's visits to the Colbert desk, from the earliest to most recent.
Hans tries a cupcake (April 30, 2010)
Back in 2010, McDonalds began selling New York-themed cupcakes in its German locations, so Colbert brought in Hans to introduce him to an American cupcake in person.
Hans performs standup comedy (July 11, 2011)
After Germany was voted the least funny country in a UK poll, Colbert brought in Hans again to prove just the opposite via a cliché standup act. Favorite line: "Love is an empty promise. Today you are young, holding hands, thinking of the future — tomorrow you are clutching a cadaver of your lover. Am I right ladies?"
Hans tries to woo Chinese investors (November 3, 2011)
When Greece's massive debt led to a European economical crisis in 2011, Colbert enlisted Hans to star in a "multimedia prospectus" in which he appeals to China for financial help.
Hans dresses like a little girl (March 8, 2012)
While this spoof of Herman Cain's ridiculous political ad isn't exactly a Hans-heavy Colbert segment, his chilling depiction of aging and death in a dystopian future is still worth including.
Hans exposes Kermit's true nature (May 2, 2012)
Kermit the Frog ran into some illegal advertising troubles in Germany, prompting Colbert to bring Hans on again to ask for an explanation.
Hans explains Father Christmas (December 18, 2013)
Hans made his most recent Colbert appearance a few weeks ago to teach Colbert about Germany's Father Christmas.
Hans comments on Team USA's German Coach (June 12, 2014)
Hans ponders the pointlessness of life (September 30, 2014)