Thursday, November 09, 2006

Norwegian-American humor (and its relatives)

I didn't run into many Scandinavians prior to my marriage, and sometimes I still don't "get" some of their jokes.

Some of them, yes. Certainly. Some of the Sven and Ole jokes, and especially some of the Lena and Ole jokes, some of those are pretty good.

You don't know Sven and Ole and Lena?

Let's see. Their jokes go something like this.

Sven and Ole went in together to sell some hay. It cost them fifty dollars a ton, but they scraped together enough money to buy enough to put a huge flatbed truck almost onto its axles. They drove to another state where hay sales were supposedly going pretty good. There, the best they could sell their hay for was thirty dollars a ton. They sold it for thirty dollars a ton. Then they sat down to calculate. They calculated that, losing twenty dollars a ton, it was going to take a few more trips to make any money at it. So they went home and bought more hay and made another trip...

Ole and Lena were snowed in. For three weeks they'd been snowed in, snow right up to the rafters. One day they heard a knock on the door. Ole answered the door. A man said, "We're from the Red Cross." Ole said "I gave at the office" and closed the door. Ole turned to Lena. "Gee, I don't know Mama. Maybe we might send a donation this year. They must be pretty hard up, if they'd go to the trouble to come through a blizzard and tunnel through the snow like that."

OK, those I get. But why folks on my husband's side of the family are emailing Lars Walker's comments about Vikings and coffee all around, and laughing so hard, that I'm not too sure of. I thought the comments were cute, but c'mon. (The coffee jokes are in the last third of the post.)


Bookworm said...

Those are some pretty funny jokes -- and typical Norwegian, I guess, in how low key they are. For both, it took me a second or two to grasp that we'd reached the punch line!

Kathryn Judson said...

Bookworm, I'm glad that it took a second or two. As I understand it, it's not quite a true Ole joke unless you have stop to figure out what's wrong with the picture! :)

Lars Walker said...

Scandinavian humor is a strange and wonderful thing. The best way to start is probably to sit down and watch a few Ingmar Bergman movies, and then realize that Bergman is considered a comedian in Sweden. :-)

Kathryn Judson said...

Lars, Thanks for stopping by. Last night we got an email back from a local friend, not related to us but definitely Norwegian-ish, who had received your post from my husband. She used an emoticon that has fallen to the ground and is pounding the ground while laughing. This, I am told, is the sort of response my husband has been getting from others.

I did chuckle gently when I read your post, but this gasping for air laughing is beyond my understanding. (But thanks for making my dear ones laugh.) :)

What's also funny is how many of these people who are guffawing amongst themselves tend to be rather dignified in public, on the whole...

I consider myself lucky to have landed amongst such a people.