• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'It's time the world laughed with Sweden'

The Local · 17 Dec 2013, 09:37

Published: 17 Dec 2013 09:37 GMT+01:00

US-native Greg Poehler tells The Local why he turned his Swedish life into a TV show, that comparisons to his comedian sister Amy are inevitable, and why Swedes should be known for their sense of humour.

Even if he doesn't like it, 39­-year­-old Greg Poehler is best known as the brother of US actress Amy Poehler. But all that may change early next year when his new show ­Welcome to Sweden ­hits TV screens around the world.
 
Poehler, a seven­-year veteran expat in Sweden, wrote the programme based on his own life in Stockholm, and it promises big-­name cameos from the likes of Amy Poehler herself, Will Ferrell (who has a Swedish wife and accompanying Swedish summer cottage), Gene Simmons, Patrick Duffy, and Swedish stars Malin Åkerman, Josephine Bornebusch and Lena Olin.
 
Poehler plays the lead role, produced, and is currently in the final editing process for a premiere on Sweden's commercial broadcaster TV4, with NBC to follow, not to mention a host of other countries. The show, he says, will mark many Americans' first encounter with Stockholm, besides perhaps the gloomy Millennium books by Stieg Larsson.
 
And it's about time the subject matter is a little lighter, he adds.
 
"I think the world is ready to laugh with Sweden," he tells The Local. "I'm hesitant to say I want the world to laugh at Sweden... Sweden is coming out pretty well in this."
 
"The show is like a postcard of Stockholm at its best. The weather is incredible, the sun is always shining...  perhaps Sweden comes out a little too well. Sweden has this darker reputation with all the Bergman films... perhaps it's deserved, I'm not sure. But my plan for season two is to have an all­-winter, all­-dark season to show the other side of it all."
 
The show will be based on Poehler's experiences when he first came to Sweden in the middle of the summer seven years ago, a choice of timing he muses may have been a ploy by his then­-girlfriend to get him to fall in love with Sweden. The ploy evidently worked, as Poehler now calls Sweden home and he has graduated from boyfriend to husband.
 
While Poehler's character plays an accountant called Bruce (he was a lawyer in real life before taking up show biz), the majority of the show aims to give a realistic look into Poehler's life in Sweden as a love refugee. With an international audience, he was forced to avoid stereotypes and in-­jokes, and instead focus on life in Sweden from a stranger-­in-­a-­strange-­land perspective.
 
"But we do go into a few things, like Swedes not talking to their neighbours, for example," he adds.
 
Poehler made the leap from lawyer to laughter around two years ago, when a friend almost literally pushed him on stage at a stand­-up comedy gig. His success on stage pushed him to follow something he "secretly always wanted to do" -­ entertainment -­ a road his big sister Amy had taken long ago.
 
The older Poehler has charmed world audiences in Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live, and is one of the big draw cards of Welcome to Sweden, in which she will play herself in five episodes. Her kid brother admits that she played a crucial role in getting the show going.
 
"I'm not naïve enough to think my sister's name and connections weren't helpful and didn't get me invited to the party, but I think whether I get to stay at the party is up to me," he says, adding that he doesn't mind if she stays in the limelight for now.
 
"I can't start getting upset that the headlines all say 'Amy Poehler's brother is doing a show'. If I was just some guy it wouldn't be a headline. The headline would be 'NBC buys rights to a Swedish show' and no­ one would really care. I get it, that's why they're interested, and if that makes more people watch it then that's great," he explains.
 
"But if they're tuning in to see me fail, I think they'll be disappointed."
 
While the aim is to draw smiles, the US comic admits that life for an immigrant in Sweden isn't all fun and games. He was sure to include home truths in the show. He admits that in real life, he can't think of a time he was invited to dinner party by a Swede who he didn't know through his wife, for example.
 
"We do have some surprisingly low and sad moments," he says. "Life as an immigrant in Sweden is a hard adjustment, finding a job, friends, assimilating into society...  I think those who have done this, those who live here as expats, they'll relate and be proud of the portrayal. A lot of the humour comes from recognizable situations for those who live here."
 
So does the American feel any kind of pressure specifically representing the expats in Sweden for a global audience?
 
"I didn't feel any pressure before you asked, and I resent the question quite frankly," he says with a lengthy laugh.
 
"I can say that if the readers of The Local don't like it then I really am in trouble."
 
Oliver Gee

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
My Swedish Career
'Sweden is the ideal place for my business'
Emilie Terstegge. Photo: Private

Why Sweden's fitness craze and generous family benefits helped this Dutch entrepreneur launch her startup for mums.

Police shoot knife man in central Stockholm
Police technicians spent the rest of Saturday night combing the square for clues. Photo: TT

A knife-wielding man was shot by police officers in Stockholm’s Sergel Square on Saturday night after he attacked officers.

 Ibrahimovic 'is not going to Manchester United' - agent
Ibrahimovic is pondering his next move. Photo: TT

According to Mino Raiola, the agent of Swedish superstar footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his client will not be heading to Old Trafford to link up with Jose Mourinho, Manchester United's new manager.

More flight delays hit Swedish airport
For some flights, the problems have led to up to two hours of delays. Photo: TT

Travellers at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport were beset again with delays on Saturday afternoon after technical problems with flightplan management software.

Video
The top reactions to Swedish high heels handyman video
Andersson was in agony after a day of laying floors in high heels. Photo: Emil Andersson

What did The Local's readers think about this viral clip challenging sexist beauty ideals?

Transport authorities call for probe into tech glitch
SAS aircraft grounded at Arlanda airport last week. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

But officials say it was not sabotage that caused last week's network failure, which knocked out large parts of Swedish air traffic.

Why northern Swedes get the hots for sex toys
File photo of handcuffs. Photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/TT

Where in Sweden do people buy the most sex toys? Kiruna in the far north, apparently.

Royal baptism day for Sweden's Prince Oscar
Prince Oscar with Archbishop Antje Jackelén. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

UPDATED: Royalty, dignitaries and other esteemed figures took to Stockholm's Royal Chapel for the ceremony.

Giant replica of Swedish 18th century ship up for sale
The Götheborg setting sail from Stockholm in 2008. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT

A replica of a doomed Swedish merchant vessel that sank in 1745 within sight of its home port of Gothenburg has been put up for sale.

Border checks
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
The Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

Dozens of attempts have been made, but this is the first successful crossing since Sweden introduced ID and border checks.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
The best, cutest and funniest snaps from Prince Oscar's christening
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Travel
Is this town the best place in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Blog updates

27 May

Editor’s blog, May 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, Would you spend a day doing manual labour in high heels? That’s what Swedish…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
Politics
Why Sweden's Greens are in free fall
National
Can these cartoon Swedes help foreigners blend in?
3,348
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se