Swedish comedy explained

In an interview this week with Dagens Nyheter, Krister Claesson - half of comedy duo Stefan & Krister - explained why Swedish folk humour isn't banal.

He explained that it’s funny when people take themselves too seriously, which means an almost endless source of material for Swedish comedians.

Stefan & Krister’s show ‘Between two brothers’ has matured in recent years. Sex and booze jokes still abound, but there’s room now as well for jokes about local government and diversity.

A number of this year’s jokes are built around Swedes’ discomfort with immigrants. Claesson gave an example of the new type of humour: “When the local government tells shopkeepers to lock up their bananas because there’s a negro around, then people can laugh.”

Claesson further explained that he wants to create for people “a possibility that, in the midst of their laughter, they’ll feel that “maybe I shouldn’t say things like that”.

Whether or not this particular sort of social activism is working or not, it seems that folk humour is still popular- eleven hundred people showed up at a Falkenberg performance of ‘Between two brothers’.

In the end, Claesson said it came down to numbers. “When eleven hundred people around you in a park laugh, you laugh too. It’s much harder to sit at home in front of the TV and laugh totally alone.”

Göteborgs-Posten reported this week that Swedes are watching more or less exactly the same television this summer as they did last summer. ‘Allsång på Skansen,’ ‘Sommartorpet,’ English-made crime dramas, and Princess Victoria’s birthday broadcast are most popular – just as they were a year ago.

A spokeswoman for Swedish Television explained that this wasn’t because Swedes are dull, or that Swedish TV is predictable: “I don’t think that this year’s TV schedule is a carbon copy of last summer’s. We continuously update the traditional programs. ‘Allsång på Skansen’ is as new as possible now that Anders Lundin has taken over.”

Which doesn’t explain why reruns such as “Diggiloo” and last year’s “Packat & klart” summer special have been so popular, but at least we’ll have the opportunity to see all the great stuff we missed when we were enjoying last year’s sun. The rainy summer hypothesis was not mentioned as a possible contender for high viewership.

However popular, ‘Allsång på Skansen’ can’t seem to avert a certain grumbling minority. In an article titled ‘Allsång only for the invited’ Aftonbladet reported on the dismay felt by 62-year-old Siv Lindberg and the others that make up the ‘Iron Gang’, the tight inner circle who give hope to those who for many years begin queueing up to 30 hours before ‘Allsång’ begins to get the good seats.

Over the years more and more of the front rows have been reserved for industry people and celebrities. In 2002 there were around 150 VIP places. The press secretary for ‘Allsång’ claims that today there are 220, but Aftonbladet counted 300.

Patrik Nordren, one of the ‘Iron Gang’, summed up the disappointment of the patient: “We line up the whole night, and then some half-celebrity glides in a half hour before the start and gets a better place.”

Swedish Television’s administration, still in the public eye after the recent tiff between writer Peter Birro and director Richard Hobert, has another open letter on their hands. After firing “Bonsai” director Filippa Pierrou without consulting the cast, Swedish Television (and the Swedish media) received an open letter condemmning their actions signed by the lead actors in the series and a good deal of the others involved. The series hasn’t been finished, and there’s talk of an actors’ boycott if Pierrou isn’t reinstated.

Finally, all the papers are talking about this year’s Pride festival in Stockholm. Dagens Nyheter promises that this year’s festival will be younger, broader, and more political than ever. This year’s highlights include the Pride Parade on Saturday and the performance afterward by Eurovision song contest winner Ruslana. Svenska Dagbladet reports that Ruslana will bring eight dancers, and that all of them will be clad in leather. We’re looking forward to it.

Pride Parade

31 July, 3 pm, Stockholm