Karen Koren: Norwegians would go down well

Bob Slayer was in Bergen. Picture: Toby Williams
Bob Slayer was in Bergen. Picture: Toby Williams
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I have just spent three glorious sun-filled days in Norway at the Humorfest, Bergen’s annual comedy festival. It was full of Norwegian comedians – which was hardly surprising – however, they did one show in English, with last year’s winner of So You Think You’re Funny, Heidi Regan guesting.

The other comics were Norwegian, but had to do their set in English. Pretty difficult, but a lot worse when it’s not your mother tongue.

The compere was Vidar Hodnekvam, an experienced Norwegian stand-up who came to the Fringe and took part in one of the So You Think You’re Funny Heats four years ago. Since then his English has improved and his material is even better.

The next Norwegian to take part was Henrik Flatseth, who will not be taking part in stand-up in the UK any time soon, by his own admission. Bob Slayer’s Blunderbus was in Bergen and with his sidekick, Lucy Hopkins, did an embarrassing skit on being uncle and nephew and how he could chat up Norwegian girls. It was cringeworthy. Though the bus is an integral part of the festival, their comedy could easily be dropped.

The best part of the night was the last act, Daniel Simonson, originally from Bergen, who won So You Think You’re Funny in 2008. He went on to win the Best Newcomer in 2012 at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, a brilliant achievement for a Norwegian.

Daniel’s material is observational and a cross between Emo Phillips and Andy Kaufman. Since his triumph in Edinburgh he has moved to New York and must surely become successful in the States.

My main reason for being at the Bergen Humorfest was to judge and present the prize for their comedy competition called Ei Du Vittig! which translates as Are you Witty! The winner will come and take part in a Heat of So You Think You’re Funny this August.

It was a tough call as I had to watch the show in Norwegian and see how the contestant could possibly do their material in English.

Luckily, it was not too difficult as first up was a young man called Hallvard Olsen Dyrnes and his personality, character comedy, physicality and diverse material showed that he is more than capable of going all the way.

I look forward to his visit and his English set.