In 2012, Klown, a Danish comedy made in 2010, was given a limited release in movie theaters and on VOD by Drafthouse Films. It’s one of the funniest, raunchiest and just plain wrong comedies to come along in… well, years, really. The outrageous Klown was marketed like it was a Danish version of The Hangover and that seems about right. Todd Phillips and Danny McBride are said to be planning a Hollywood remake.
I saw the movie then, loved it, but didn’t really think that much more about it until a few months ago, when I picked up the Klovn DVD box set used for twenty bucks at Amoeba. [Klown was the “film of the TV show” that aired for six series between 2005 and 2009, but that’s spelled Klovn and how I will spell it from here on out.]
Of late, with the summer TV doldrums, the wife and I have been watching several episodes of Klovn a week. I think it’s safe to assume that people who come to this blog regularly do so because they trust our tastes and recommendation of fun stuff to get stoned and watch. Well listen up then, because if the idea of a Danish TV comedy, a sitcom for fuck’s sake, where you’d be expected to read subtitles, doesn’t immediately seem like something you might like, give Klovn a chance, because in the five years of doing this blog (we turned five two weeks ago) this is one of the top things that I am the most enthusiastic about recommending to our high IQ, good-looking readers, ever.
And no, I’m not suggesting that you go out and spend $100 for an imported DVD box set that your DVD player probably won’t even play based on my say so, because every episode of Klovn is on HULU. Who knew? (And who knows what other great shit lurks there if this gem of genius comedy is any indication?)
Klovn is the product of two of the most devious comedic minds on the entire planet, Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen. Imagine a Danish buddy version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. As with Larry David in the American sitcom, Christensen and Hvam play fictionalized versions of themselves, two middle-aged comedians in a sort of docu-comedy meets Dogme 95 kind of thing, which makes sense as Lars von Trier’s Zentropa produced it. He even makes a cameo appearance, playing himself, as do other internationally notable Danes like Oscar-winning director Bille August and actor Mads Mikkelsen. Co-star Iben Hjejle (who plays herself playing Caspar’s often exasperated girlfriend, as she once was in real life) will be familiar to American audiences for her role as John Cusack’s girlfriend in High Fidelity.
Casper and Frank were already well-known in Denmark prior to Klovn, having appeared previously in Langt fra Las Vegas (“Far from Las Vegas” where Christensen played himself in a behind the scenes of a morning show situation comedy and Hvam played his geeky best friend, a sportscaster) and a sketch show, Casper og Madrilaftalen. Both of them, but especially Christensen—who has been a household name since he was nineteen—have also hosted mainstream television variety shows and radio programs.
Which is why it’s so extraordinary just how far they are willing to go. Casual racism. AIDs. Political refugees. Drug overdoses. The handicapped. Sexual harassment. Abortion. Men made to look like total fucking idiots while the female characters (Hjejle and Mia Lyhne who plays Frank’s girlfriend “Mia” but who is not playing “herself”) just look on in utter, befuddled amazement.
They go there. Oh do they got there. Christensen and Hvam do not give a fuck about portraying themselves as complete assholes (“Alan Partridge” is a character after all, his name isn’t Steve Coogan!). It’s about the laugh and the laughs are HUGE in this show. The writing, by Hvam and Christensen, is as sharp as an informercial knife and they manage to employ a charming formula of laying a long fuse near the start of each episode that explodes in the face of one or the other of our hapless, but thoroughly immoral protagonists. Apparently when they first sat down to write the series, they challenged themselves to come up with a list of the most troublesome and politically incorrect topics they could think of and then wrote an episode around each of these offensive themes. If I tell you that during the course of the series that one of them gets caught shitting in a litter box and flirts with a high school girl who has a colostomy bag by telling her that he has one, too (and getting caught in this lie), I’m not giving away much, just a bit of the flava.
But don’t take my word for it. Just hit play and smoke one if you’ve got one. It’s worth noting that the jaunty music played in the Danish version of the series—it’s played incessantly—has been swapped out for different music here. That’s too bad because it really adds to the show’s unique personality, but it’s not like anyone would know the difference outside of Denmark anyway.