Home of many great things, Finland
also has its darker sides. Our country has given birth to a very strange type of gag-based comedic TV shows. Although its roots are in the boob tube
, the style isn't limited to television
but can be seen in numerous Finnish movies as well.
Traditional Finnish TV comedy is usually crafted by combining some or all of the following elements:
- Stretching a joke far beyond the point when the very last home audience member has stopped laughing. (You think SNL is the champion at this? Wrong.)
- Repeating a catch phrase over and over and over and over and over and over. And a few more times.
- Solving the problem of having to come up with real jokes and punchlines, by writing gags consisting solely of the abovementioned catch phrases.
- Using "funny" voices which make the actors' speech completely incomprehensible and them sound like victims of serious brain damage.
- Making "funny" faces which make Jim Carrey look like he could host Meet the Press.
- Wearing "funny" costumes and make-up found in the dumpster behind MTV3's dressing room.
- Being almost at the point of bursting to laughter all the time while delivering the lines - something you would usually see on blooper reels.
- Repeating the catch phrase once more, just in case.
The Finns aren't usually described as an exceptionally musical nation, but an interestingly large amount of these shows include music
of some sort. Unfortunately, this means that once a show's popularity reaches a certain point, the creators release CD
of humorous songs which usually becomes a hit
. I have no problem with that, except that many of the performers couldn't sing
to save their life. This, combined with the funny voices
mentioned above, usually makes the result so painful
to listen that I couldn't even begin to describe it here.
The best examples of the abovementioned style of "entertainment" are Pirkka-Pekka Petelius and Aake Kalliala, who were responsible of several extremely cheap and formulaic shows for MTV3 (and its earlier form MTV) in the 80s and early 90s. Other creators of such programming include Spede Pasanen, Vintiöt, Kummeli and countless others.
For a Non-Finnish example, see Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged me. The constant gag stretchings and catch phrase repeatings are very similar to what I am talking about, although less extreme.
Finnish TV has also seen some quality comedy. For example, Markus Kajo has offered us his own unique style of humour for years, and the popular Studio Julmahuvi was surprisingly smart and funny compared to its kin.
Furthermore, the basic-Finnish-comedy trend seems to have passed us, with only a few such series currently running. Still, there are many series which only look different on the surface due to a singular gimmick (such as the improvisational bits in Pulkkinen or the reversed gender roles in P.P. Petelius' latest monstrosity). Apart from the one simple trick it's the same old formula all over again.
I doubt a lot of bad Finnish comedy has been released with English subtitles. If you run into such a title, grab it. The next time you feel the humour in your country sucks, put on the tape and you'll feel much better. :)
Sorry for the pointless rant, people. CapriKorn's writeup on Studio Julmahuvi made me remember how terrible 97% of such shows in Finland really are.