• Sweden's news in English

'It's not the fart that kills...'

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius · 9 Nov 2009, 11:45

Published: 09 Nov 2009 11:45 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Patrick Hansson wants to help make learning Swedish simple. And funny. If you haven’t seen his clip or clicked on the link your friends have posted on Facebook, you just might want to check it out. No previous knowledge of Swedish required.

Hansson got the idea for the ‘Simple Swedish’ project one morning just after he awoke, when his first thought of the day was, “The [Swedish] word ‘val’ has three different meanings. That must be confusing to all of those who are trying to learn Swedish.”

And so began his comedic approach to learning bits and bobs of the Swedish language. ‘Simple Swedish’, the skit, was written, filmed, edited and published by Hansson, a TV cameraman by day, funny language film maker by night.

The video first hit the self-broadcasting site YouTube in late September. Initially, Hansson only sent the 6½-minute film to discussion sites and forums where people have an interest in learning Swedish, as well as to his own group of friends on social networking sites like Facebook.

“From that point it’s taken on its own life,” Hansson tells The Local, explaining how the video has spread around Sweden and into the rest of the English-speaking world. To date, there have been over 50,000 views of the YouTube film and the number is increasing all the time.

The message and content of the humour in ‘Simple Swedish’ plays a lot on American culture and its usage of the English language. Poking fun at the American need to censor profanity (the f-word in particular) on TV and radio is a clear message, with the Swedish king summoned for demonstration purposes.

“For example, if the King wants to go on national TV and say ‘Fuck you’, he can. But he won’t. I mean, which king would do that? Not ours.”

Hansson drew some of his inspiration from the comedy routine called “Hipp Hipp: Svenska för nybörjare” and the character Itzhak Skenstrom. But while Hipp Hipp and other Swedish language comedy sketches aim their humour at the Swedish audience, Hansson also wants to reach non-Swedes.

With a script in hand and the drive and inspiration to see it through, Hansson roped in Ola Lustig, the face of ‘Simple Swedish’, while working with him last summer on a TV4 game show.

Lustig is best known as a presenter on commercial radio station Rix FM where he is commonly referred to as Väder-Ola [Weather-Ola], an epithet he first received while presenting the weather forecast for Aftonbladet.

Lustig tells The Local that he got involved with Simple Swedish (for which he didn’t get paid), “Because I love making people laugh.” He adds, “I also have a minor passion for languages.”

Lustig also has a self-professed passion for farts. Fart means speed in Swedish, and the section of the skit devoted to Swedish speed was Ola’s contribution.

“I love farts. A while ago I did an experiment where I taped my farts on my iPhone and played them live on [my radio programme].” And so Lustig introduces the English-speaking audience to Swedish/English word-play: “It’s not the fart that kills, it’s the smäll” (meaning ‘impact’, but pronounced ‘smell’).

‘Simple Swedish’ was made on a wing and a prayer with no budget. It was filmed with Hansson’s own camera, a borrowed microphone and construction lamps in his flat in Hägersten, a neighborhood of Stockholm just south of the inner city.

“I filmed against an empty wall to give the impression of space. It’s my living room wall, we had to move stuff around.”

But it has yet to be determined whether non-Swedes with no ties to the country will be sufficiently amused by ‘Simple Swedish’.

Ben Kersley, the British comic living in Linköping, performs his routines in Swedish. According to Kersley, “Comedy relies on language and misunderstandings of language - from the pun, double entendre, malapropism and the oxymoron... not to mention good old Spoonerisms… This kind of sketch is all the funnier for an audience who have a knowledge of both languages i.e. Swedes and non-Swedes who live in Sweden.”

“In part of my act I look at the question of Swedish/English from the other perspective… on how Swedes misuse English, which possibly has more mileage as Swedes are obliged to use English and therefore make mistakes more commonly.”

Kersley is bullish on the skit nonetheless, “This sketch is great as it hits on all the things we see when we first get here - fart, sex, slut.” Speed, six, the end.

Story continues below…

Hansson has ideas for another script and Ola confirms he’s on board. “Anything that’s good for Sweden is good for everyone here…I’m fascinated by the fascination with Sweden.”

But whether the humour really can cross to Americans with no knowledge of Sweden is questionable. Ben Kersley points out elements that likely go over most people’s head, including Hansson himself.

“How strange it is to see a Swede in a suit and tie. Also, that he is using British English to teach the Americans how to speak Swedish.”

On that note, we’ll take our leave, borrowing from the skit’s own ending, “Good bye. Slut.”

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

14:52 November 9, 2009 by Marc the Texan
I thought he was pretty funny.
15:49 November 9, 2009 by eZee.se
Some parts were funny... but for the most.... naaah.

I also think you gotto be either in Sweden or communicating with Swedes to find this funny... for an American far away.. other than a few references to sl-ut and f-art, its unlikely to be 'international humor' - just imho.
17:04 November 9, 2009 by chiyuwang
His way of teaching fit me very well, the pronounce is clear, and I remember the those vocabulary very well after watching it.

Need to watch more.
21:54 November 9, 2009 by calebian22
He reminded me of my SFI teacher, only with more swearing and alot funnier.
23:33 November 10, 2009 by Bigd

Its not choise, but choice!!

That was the Fan-niest bit for me.
15:22 November 12, 2009 by glamshek
The idea is brilliant however it starts from THE BASICS. hahhaha
17:12 November 13, 2009 by WilmaC
As an non-Swede American in California I thought it was really funny. I have very, very little understanding of Swedish besides one phrase and about eight words. When I was an exchange student, one of my best friends was Swedish, so maybe that has something to do with it. But keep 'em coming!=)
18:46 November 13, 2009 by Zedman
As an english couplce trying to learn Swedish my wife and i thought it was brilliant. More must have more, much better than our current language course.
19:23 November 13, 2009 by PureMorning
I am an American learning Swedish-so this video on YouTube was hilarious!
21:23 November 14, 2009 by New
Love this guy - he's hysterical, in a bizarre kind of way!
12:23 November 15, 2009 by Petro Pharo
I think its cool and presented with some style .......at least its clears alot of the confusion and increases the interest that its not that difficult as it seems to speak or learn swedish...........keep it up!
01:59 November 17, 2009 by metalmonkey
I think this is fabulously funny and I'm from Canada and the video has been making it's rounds up here too, its popularity has obviously grown. Waiting for the second episode!
11:53 November 18, 2009 by LaQueen
Skitbra!!! Tack så mycket!
Today's headlines
Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available