Q&A with Swenglish comedy star Ben Kersley

Q&A with Swenglish comedy star Ben Kersley
Sweden’s only 'Swenglish' comedian, Ben Kersley, talks to The Local about his latest comedic venture, The Tuesday Chinwag, starring ‘three bespectacled English guys’ and music by Swedish Idol’s Nicholas Perry.

The Local: How did this show come about?

Ben Kersley: Me, and fellow comedians James McKie and Ben Richards wanted a regular English comedy night in Stockholm. We agreed that the most important thing would be to make it fun and laid back for both the audience and the performers – a chat show format, which would be mostly improvised but that contained a few pre-written ‘stand up’ sections.

We thought some live music would also add to the night, so I asked the Idol 2011 dropout and fellow Linköping resident, Nicholas Perry to be a part of it too. Not only does he have a raw talent for writing and performing gritty observational songs about life in Sweden, but also he is also an English guy with glasses, so he was in.

TL: Why do people want to see 3 Englishmen talking about the weather?

BK: What possible reason could there be to NOT want to see three English blokes talking about the weather!?

The thinking was that there couldn’t be a more ridiculously banal and predictable subject for three Englishmen to have a nice sit down and chat about than the weather. Hopefully the audience will find this idea as stupid as we did…it had the three of us in fits of giggles for ages!

TL: You’re the self-titled only comedian in Sweden who performs in Swenglish. In terms of the Swedish language itself…any pet hates?

BK: The worst crimes against Swedish are committed by Swedes who pepper their sentences with English. It sounds ridiculous and pretentious and they should stop. I don’t want to hear the words – “yesbox”, “shit”, “sorry”, or “smorgasbord” unless they are part of a proper English sentence.

TL: The Local wrote a list recently about how lose your Swedish friends in ten days. What would you say can irritate Swedes?

BK: It’s in the language. The debate about rebranding Östergötland as ‘East Sweden’, for example, has really got people’s backs up. All the language Nazis have come out in force and are bemoaning the use of English in Sweden. It just makes me wonder: When will these people learn that Swedish is essentially a linguistically impoverished and moribund language with a limited vocabulary unsuited for the international arena?

TL: What’s the best way to make a Swede laugh?

BK: A funny hat. Everyone likes a funny hat.

TL: Is it true that Swede’s don’t have a sense of humour or is that just another Swedish myth?

BK: Swedes do have a great sense of humour but they have different comedy. There is a great comic pedigree too, look at people like Tage Danielsson, Povel Ramel, Magnus Härenstam and they are just as good as funny as British names from the same period. Their downfall is that they are known for <i<allsång, revy and the god-awful genre of buskis.

TL: Do you have any comedy idols or influences?

BK: I love Larry David – I have a similar trigger that makes me pick arguments with people – I get a real buzz from it, that I’m quite ashamed of sometimes. In Sweden, being a bit belligerent is often mistaken for being a dangerous psychopath…but I’m actually quite a nice guy.

TL: You’ve been in Sweden since 2006, has the novelty of the country worn off? If so, where do you find your material?

BK: My first material in Sweden was all about snus and fika – Now I write about more individual experiences in Sweden – but still fall back on the old favourites as I don’t think Sweden ever allows you to feel unforeign.

Part of the idea of having themes for The Tuesday Chinwag was to force us to write about subjects that we wouldn’t normally write about. So, at the moment, I’m desperately scribbling on my notebook and trying to get some laughs out of the weather. My mind is in a thick fog (badaboom!)

TL: Ha ha ha…Any tips for aspiring comedians out there?

BK: Get a grip!

The Tuesday Chinwag takes place on the first Tuesday of each month starting on February 7th, with ‘The Weather’. Following ‘profoundly important subjects’ include: ‘Love’ (6th March), ‘Pets’ (3rd April), and ‘Pot Luck’ (1st May).

All shows will be at the Kafe Klaver in Södermalm, and tickets cost 50 kronor.

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