Torge Oelrich became known as the YouTube star Freshtorge, and now the dating show satire “Lonely Hearts” is starting. In the interview he reveals details.
Torge Oelrich (34) from Schleswig-Holstein with his YouTube parodies. Now his first own six-part sketch comedy show is on TV. “Lonely Hearts” can be seen in the ZDF media library and on ZDFneo (from 11:15 p.m.) starting this Sunday (June 4). In an interview with spot on news, the former educator explains why he chose a dating show satire. He also reveals how “unspectacular” his everyday work is and where he finds inspiration for new weird characters like “Claudi, the dog woman” or “Alpha man Andy”.
With “Lonely Hearts” your first own sketch comedy starts on television. Why did you choose the overarching theme of finding a partner?
Torge Oelrich: Because there are many people who are surprised that they can’t find a partner, and if you take a closer look, they are sometimes tragic characters who should maybe work on themselves a bit. At least with my characters, who are of course completely exaggerated, you can understand why they are still single. We found that interesting. But it was also important to us to have a kind of framework for all episodes, instead of just lining up one sketch after the next, which then have nothing to do with each other.
Some characters in the fictional dating show are known from your YouTube channel “Freshtorge”. Which characters can fans look forward to seeing again?
Oelrich: Susanne Nörgel, who has fallen out with her husband Wolfgang and is now looking for a new love on “Lonely Hearts”, is definitely there. Construction worker Peter Pöppelmann is properly flirted with by a customer. Claudi, the dog lady, will be there, along with her daughter, Mareike, the horse girl, and Sören, the North German HSV fan who likes to have a glass of schnapps. And then there’s a comeback of a very old character that really only the fans of the first hour know: Andi, the man in the tool shop.
The special thing about the show is that you play all the characters yourself. They are very versatile. How did you learn that?
Oelrich: I didn’t do any acting training and there was never anyone in my family who was on stage professionally. I don’t know how it happened to me either. Slipping into roles and parodying people is just a great passion of mine. Little by little I got better and better at it and so I was finally able to make it my profession.
You trained as an educator and first worked in the profession. How did the change come about?
Oelrich: YouTube kept getting bigger and bigger. At some point I only did half of both, in the mornings I was there for the kids and in the afternoons I created YouTube videos. At some point I wanted to concentrate on one thing and do it really well. When my boss at the elementary school then said to me “Just try YouTube – and if that doesn’t work anymore, you can come back here at any time”, that gave me an incredible amount of security. Then I made my decision – and I haven’t regretted it.
What does a typical working day look like for you today?
Oelrich: My day-to-day work is less spectacular than many people imagine, because I’m not an influencer who walks every red carpet. I still like living in the country. I structure my working day in such a way that I get up early in the morning – it’s not that difficult at the moment because I have two small children who wake me up then. Then I drive a few villages to my office and write scripts there, record a lot, cut everything and upload it. We also have a lot of phone meetings where we talk about things like “Einsame Herzen”, the tour in September or cooperations. It’s actually a lot of office work and not that much work with the camera.
Where do you generally get inspiration for new sketches from? And did you watch a lot of dating shows or talk shows for the new TV format?
Oelrich: Hape Kerkeling was a great inspiration and role model for me right from the start. The characters he has developed and the way they are presented are simply brilliant. But I also loved the British sketch show “Little Britain” (2003-2006). When it comes to dating shows, I have to think primarily of the Austrian format “Love Stories and Marriage Matters” (since 1997). There, too, characters keep appearing that you really can’t parody because they’re so extreme.
Another source of inspiration is certainly the people around you in your village. Have you studied them all carefully?
Oelrich: Yes, that’s how it really is. The people around me inspire me a lot. Unfortunately, I already know most of them. In Berlin, however, I recently met a person who will probably become a character again. That was a young German woman who constantly integrated English words into her German sentences. It was really uncomfortable to listen to. So maybe she will become: Lisa, 18 years old, was in Australia for half a year and is now totally no longer able to speak German, you know…
Has anyone ever been offended who recognized themselves?
Oelrich: No, fortunately not. But the characters are also so overdrawn that there really aren’t any people like that, so hopefully no one feels offended.
Your job is always about people. Do you need a real break from people?
Oelrich: I’m actually very good at being alone and I enjoy the quiet. My wife, for example, couldn’t do that at all. Less than 100 people live in our village. If I want to be alone, it’s very possible here.
What do you wish for the professional future?
Oelrich: I’ve always done well by not thinking so far into the future. I don’t have a plan for the next few years. I do what I enjoy on YouTube and what else is available along the way. The cooperation with ZDF also just happened that way. And if it fits and feels healthy, I’m very happy to do it.
Maybe the way leads to “LOL”?
Oelrich: I really have the utmost respect for that, because they are the elite and it’s so blatantly funny. There’s no way I’d cancel right away, but I’d have to sleep on it for a night or two.
The first broadcast of “Einsame Herzen” is on June 4th in the ZDF media library and on ZDFneo. How are you watching the premiere?
Oelrich: I already know “Einsame Herzen” inside out, but my parents and my sister, with whom I also work, want to come to us and then we’ll probably watch a few episodes together.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.