He had been there from the beginning. From 1766, when the hunting grounds of the Prater were made accessible to the general public. The first two “attractions” were a pub and the Kasperltheater (Punch & Judy theatre). The Kaiserwürstel (the emperor’s joker), as it was called. Strictly speaking it was a Kasperltheater. Wherever there was a spot, a new one would open. Kasperl (Punch), was the star of the Prater. Everyone knew him. He was a people’s magnet. And of course the critics hated him, but this helped him more than it hurt. His cheeky, helpful but rude demeanour was well received by the Viennese.
Soon the Prater was nicknamed the “Wurstelprater” after him, by the general public. Even the coin used to pay at the entrance was named “Kasperl”. When Johann Josef La Roche conceived the character of “Kasperl”, he never thought that he might become such a hit. Of course his roots lay in already popular figures, such as Arlecchino or Hanswurst. But somehow Kasperl had something that helped rid the Viennese particularly well of their Grant (grumpiness).
Then the war came, and it grew quiet around him. And even in the 1950s, when the reconstructions began, many Kasperltheater weren’t rebuilt. Only a few survived. Even the one in Prater had to move several times, until it finally found its spot at the beginning of the 21st century at the Wurstelplatz. Guarded by two statues in a fountain – Hanswurst and Karsperl.
Once again, he was showered with love, when a group of children decorated the fountain. But this wasn’t enough for him anymore. He had gotten so drunk on all the attention over the years, that he fell into a deep depression. From the outside, he looked cheekily at his comrade, but inside he felt rejected and alone. A dark fog accumulated at the bottom of the fountain. It encircled his feet, crept up his legs and sapped all his energy. He fell into a deep hole.
Until, one day, someone looked into his eyes. Was this the one that looked up? Had they read the monster card correctly?
He was so surprised that someone came looking for him that the fog evaporated instantly. The negative thoughts vanished and he was happy about the tiny bit of attention he had gotten. Cheekily he winked at the person in front of him.