Meet the Expat: Johnny “Hollywood” Rotnem


I run Karaoke nights at the Jamesons pub in Friesenstraße four nights a week. The place is packed on Friday and Saturday, some 200 people cram themselves in there. They sometimes stand in line for as long as two hours just to sing a song. Why is it so popular? Because Karaoke is simply the best entertainment in the world! It’s free, you can get up and make a fool of yourself, or prove yourself, and it’s really great fun. It’s also a great place for people to test their voices and get some stage practise. A lot of the people that sing at my show have gone on to do the Linus Talent Probe, Voice of Germany and X-Faktor on TV, some have even won.


Johnny’s long career has also included a stint as a Marlboro Man

Getting up in front of people is the scariest thing in the world, so I give people loads of encouragement – and I’ve got people who’ve really improved over the months and years, all because of a few little tips from me. I don’t let anyone be negative. We have a class of handicapped kids that come in here sometimes and they get huge applause. When they walk off the stage it’s like they’ve all grown a few inches. I always like to encourage people. I remember one girl who was about 18 the first time she stood up here. She was so nervous she was shaking. I came up beside her, told her to keep singing and gently pushed the mike closer to her mouth so she could sing properly. She comes back regularly now and she’s developed such a voice through gaining confidence, it’s great to see that.

I always start the show with Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer” and I get everyone to sing the chorus – the energy in there is unbelievable and I get goosepumbs when they all sing along. We often have a bunch of stag and hen parties too – that really took off when the cheap flights with Ryan Air started up. We have people from Ireland, Holland, the UK, all over the place, every weekend.

Most people know me as Johnny Hollywood the comedian. I was born in Hollywood California but came to Germany when I was about 14. I went to school in Aachen. That means my German is almost perfect, so I fill a strange niche as a comedian. I’m not like John Doyle or Gayle Tuffs with their kind of Denglish. I’m an American who can speak German like a local. But it also means that I’ve been afforded opportunities I wouldn’t have had elsewhere.

I still run a stand-up comedy show from time to time – the next one will be scheduled for Johnny_biog_3the fall. I used to have two spots in the RTL Comedy Festival in Cologne which were always sold out. All the experience I’ve gained here also means I can perform ‘back home’ too. Whenever I am back in the States, I play in venues like the Saphire Club in Las Vegas, the largest mens club in the world. In the sports bar they have a program that features a pole dancer, then a comedian, then a magician, then a comedian, then a burlesque dancer, then the comedy headliner. They gave me a half hour headliner spot last year and I brought my mum along too, she loved it.

I love being an entertainer. I love inspiring people and encouraging them. And when I’m not on the stage I try to find ways to inspire and motivate people through mentoring and coaching. I’m writing a book at the moment about gaining success through encouragement and am also putting together a book about mentoring, it’s something I feel really strongly about.

What’s my biggest wish for the world? I want Independence Day 2 to come true. If the aliens come we’ll finally have a reason to stand together and act like a united human race. It’s about time.

Want to find out more about Johnny Rotnem, then check out the links below:
Jamesons Irish Pub, Friesenstraße 30:


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