pühapäev, aprill 25, 2010

a short history of estonian comedy

"Does Estonia have a stand-up comedy tradition?" So one Australian Swede named Louis asked me weeks ago. I never answered, but during long walks along the overflowing Emajõgi in Tartu I turned the question over and over again, trying to find one.

Despite the Estonians' taciturn public image, they actually are a humorous people. They have funny writers (Andrus Kivirähk), funny sketch comedy groups (Kreisiraadio), funny actors (Jan Uuspõld), funny 'journalists' (Mart Juur), and even funny politicians (Edgar Savisaar), but do they have a verifiable stand-up comedy tradition?

I would like to tell you that, yes, they had a week-long Laugh In during the St. George's Night Uprising in 1343. Or how about Johan Voldemar Jannsen's gut-splitting intro monologue to the first ever National Song Festival in 1869? And who could forget Gustav Ernesaks' bawdy attempt at musical comedy, "Sillamäe Slapstick"? Sadly, it isn't so. To date, Estonia has lacked its own Chris Rocks. Until now.

On April 27th and April 28th, the Tartu Comedy Festival 2010 will take place at the Eduard Vilde Lokaal ja Kohvik. Each night's performance begins at 8 pm, and admission costs 50 EEK. Another performance is scheduled for April 29th at the Drink Baar in Tallinn.

Both the festival and the Tallinn performance boast the "best comedians from around Scandinavia" and one could see them as another example of Swedish empire-building in its former province. The aforementioned Louis Zezeran is one of the prime movers behind the festival and will be performing there. Based in Stockholm, Governor General Louis has enlisted other Nordic imperialists, most notably the notorious Finnish propagandists Phil Schwartzmann of Finland for Thought and Zöe Chandler, along with American Swedish soldier of fortune Joe Eagan to take part in the shows.

Of course, what imperial project would be complete without local collaborators? Fortunately, Estonia has always been a jackpot of sorts for imperialists, an over-flowing well of unscrupulous characters out to make names for themselves in the service of whoever is asking. This time around, Andrei Tuch, who will basically do anything for money, will be on hand to represent Estonia, while other miscreants and ne'er-do-wells tapped for the festival include American Estonian playboy Stewart Johnson and Baltic German monarchist and warlord Eric von Ungern-Seufert.

So, after thousands of glacial years, an eternity of darkness, Estonia will at last have its stand-up comedy. The only question that now remains is how funny the show will be. Considering the potent, even toxic mix of wit and A. Le Coq, it is likely that things will get out of hand.

11 kommentaari:

bunsen_lamp ütles ...

Stand-up comedy has been huge in Estonia all these years. Nobody just knew it was called *stand-up.* Did you know the most popular long playing albums (LPs) in 1970s and 1980s were stand-up routines by comedians like Eino Baskin, etc.

Check this out:

Funny? I don't know. Stand-up? You betcha.

Unknown ütles ...

In this climate, only drunks can laugh.

Or foreigners on a brief visit.




There's all your stand-up comedy.

Laying down.


Toivo Ellakvere ütles ...

what about Tallinn ?

McMad ütles ...

"Meelejahutaja", a program that was on the radio every sunday morning from 1972 till 1995 was stand-up material.
Personally i feel that the US style comedy clubs are about as welcome as McDonalds.

Unknown ütles ...

Just to note that the St. George's Night Uprising ended in the winter of 1345 with a peace agreement between the Oeselians and the Livonian Order.

-raul- ütles ...

Mr. Juur is more like "funny" "journalist" than funny "journalist".

> and even funny politicians (Edgar Savisaar)

Not to forget our prime keep-always-smiling-man Ansip aka Brian.

> Estonia has lacked its own Chris Rocks

It would be intresting and fun to have a black, I mean Russian rooted, Estonian stand-up comedian making fun of Russian rooted Estonian prime minister candidate.

Chuck ütles ...

Around 1998-99 in Tallinn there was a short-lived comedy club in behind the WTC and across from Dekoltee between Ahtri & Narva mnt.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

If Eino Baskin´s Occupation-era comedy now seems restrained keep in mind how heavy the hand of the censor was at the time. The real fun where people could laugh themselves silly was the underground ´Armeenia raadio´ format - Q&A quips at the expense of the Communist system, passed around only among trusted friends.

LPR ütles ...

Ansip looks like he is in character. I always watch him waiting for when he's gonna relax, smile, do high-fives and tell everyone that he was just kidding - "you alls just got punked!"

He's gotta be an act. If it is not, gosh are we in trouble.

Sharon ütles ...

Hey, are you aware you're being "google scammed"? Those comments with little to say and a lot of links to who-knows-what are basically using your page to bump up the linked pages' status in a Google search. It's some spammer messing with Google's algorithm and using your blog to do it.

Sharon ütles ...

I've noticed a lot of things about the Estonian attitude are very similar to the Australian way of looking at the world, which makes me wonder if Estonians would appreciate Australian comedians (and vice versa).

Get some of your eesti mates to watch YouTube clips of Shaun Micallef and Cal Wilson and see what they think.

Okay, technically Cal Wilson is a New Zealander, but she lives in Australia, and Kiwis and Aussies are practically interchangeable...