Lola A. Åketström spotlights English speaking stand up comedy in Stockholm.
Ryan Bussell, an American standup comedian who moved from Boston to Stockholm in 2006 and runs Crossfire Comedy Club, attends several comedy events in town every year and one such event he attended this year was the inaugural Stand Up for Stockholm Comedy Festival which debuted in October 2014.
The humor festival was created as an opportunity for English speaking audiences in Stockholm to experience comedy and entertainment in their own language. The festival brought in comedians such as Stephen Merchant, Todd Barry, Jack Dee, Whitney Cummings and Jim Breuer from the US and UK. Also invited where organizers of the New York Comedy Festival and BBC Best of the Fest which ran their own comedy nights at Kägelbanan.
From Sweden’s own stand up scene, local acts like Kristoffer Appelquist, Petra Mede, Alla Mina Kamrater and Petrina Karlsson also took various stages around Stockholm which included Rival, Södra Teatern and Cirkus.
Based on positive attendance and interest, Stand Up for Stockholm returns in 2015 and will have comedian Eddie Izzard as its headlining act at Globen. According to its organizers, “Stand Up For Stockholm showed that interest in standup is big in Sweden and the country is ready for a new humor festival. The goal has always been to spread the festival to several cities, so it is especially exciting to already this spring present both Stand Up For Stockholm and Stand Up For Gothenburg with a superstar like Eddie Izzard and several of Sweden’s foremost comedians.”
For Bussell, he was glad to see comics that were unknown in Sweden given opportunities to perform on large stages at nice venues including the Rival where he attended a couple comedy events as part of the festival. “[Comedian] Todd Barry got my attention to the overall lineup because he’s one of my favorites and I was happy for a chance to see him live,” shared Bussell. “If I’d had the option I would have gone to several of the nights, but I also like Whitney Cummings very much.”
Stand Up for Stockholm will be back for its sophomore showing in May 2015 and as for Bussell, he would definitely go again.
While Swedish comedic acts abound in Stockholm, most of the comedy in town is performed in Swedish with nuanced cultural references that only residents and locals would probably get. However, there are venues in Stockholm which present English-speaking comedians. In between festivals, there are several clubs in town where you can go enjoy comedy performed in English in addition to Bussell’s Crossfire Comedy Club which is held every Monday night at Caliente Tapas and Bar.
Founded by Mårten Andersson in 2004, RAW Comedy is arguably the largest and best-known stand-up venture which constantly mixes international stars with popular Swedish comedians and hot new talent in different venues around the city. Past acts have included Eddie Izzard, Jerry Seinfeld, Dylan Moran and Gina Yashere, amongst others.
Held at Teater Pero in Stockholm, Laughing Stock is an all English stand-up comedy night that aims to bring some of the best English speaking acts to town such as New York comedian Yemi Afolabi and Australian-born Bec Hill.
While Maffia Comedy Club stages mostly Swedish acts, it frequently offers up international acts like Bussell himself. Maffia Comedy Club is held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Baras Backe, while Friday and Saturday events are at Underbara Bar.
Many Irish and English pubs around Stockholm also have their own versions of comedy nights all delivered in English. The Big Ben Pub in Södermalm offers up weekly stand-up comedy nights in English and is one of the popular spots in town to experience a mix of both English and Swedish comedians.