• 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
Sweden advised to bring conscription back in 2018
Bringing back the draft could help a stretched military, a government inquiry says. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Young men and women could be made to fill in questionnaires for recruitment to the Armed Forces as early as next year, according to a new proposal.

Nationalists suspend aide after Russia propaganda claim
The suspended aide is a political secretary to SD member of parliament Kent Ekeroth. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

His suspension comes only days after another of the party's political secretaries resigned amid controversy over a property deal in Russia.

Presented by Lernia
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Photo: Lernia

Struggling to learn Swedish? There are a few ways to make it easier. Here are seven tips from the experts.

Here's how much Sweden's highest-earning authors make
It was a good year for the likes of Jonas Jonasson (left) and Camilla Läckberg (right). Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Henrik Montgomery/TT

From Nordic Noir to a hundred-year-old man (and one called Ove), Sweden's authors had a good year in 2015.

Sweden named world's sixth most competitive country
The good news also came with some caveats. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

The country moved up three places in the top ten of the latest edition of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.

The Swedish celebs you really should not google
'Oh no, don't tell me I just clicked on THAT link.' Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

These are the world's most dangerous viral Swedish celebrities, according to a new report.

Furious elk mum attacks Swede, breaks his arm
You talkin' to me? Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

It came back and attacked him not once, but twice.

Report: Stockholm is at risk of a housing bubble
Apartments in Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Stockholmers are the third most likely to experience a housing bubble in their city, according to an international ranking.

The Local List
Reverse culture shock: the troubles of leaving Sweden
Does it get more Swedish than this? Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Why is that stranger talking to me in the elevator?!

Police close Facebook thread after call for help derails
A file photo of police cars on Gotland not related to the article. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The Gotland Police Facebook post asking the public for information about an unprovoked attack on two boys had to be closed because the comments section spiraled out of control.

Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
National
Where Sweden's foreigners are from
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,960
jobs available