Germany, around 1750: Karoline Neuber, director of the first German theater groups, lived at a time, when the clown was the most popular figure in German theatre. Neuber now wants to use his traveling troupe to establish a new theatre culture on German soil. When the clown in the troupe once more ruins the gig with his ribald jokes, Karoline wants to throw him out of the group. But the fresh mouthed clown is under the protection of a member of the Leipzig city council and Karoline's hands are thusly tied. This same councilman, however, also has an eye on Philine, the daughter of the innkeeper Schroder; and the innkeeper would be more than happy to marry his child off to this creep. Philine ends up finding shelter with the theatre group; but when Count Armin falls in love with her, Duchess Amalia hatches a plot against the couple, because she wants the Count to marry the daughter of the Duke of Coburg. As if all that weren't trouble enough, the clown, whom Karoline finally managed to fire, has put together his own theatre troupe and is trying hard to steal away all the members of Karoline's group.