Comedy masterclass

One of them compares the relationship to a perfect marriage. The other says they’ve never had a fight. Comedians Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström are in perfect sync.

The first thing you notice about Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström is that they are big. Big men, that is. Both are tall, and both have what people call “presence.” In short, you will not fail to notice them entering the room.

That’s a good thing when you’re an entertainer working a room, which is what the duo has done most recently, touring the past two years with their two-man show Ägd (“Owned”).

(Full disclosure: My son played a small part in the show between 2014 and 2016, and as his traveling companion I’ve seen the show dozens of times.)

Schyffert and Lindström take a bow with Son.

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Duck så mycket

Sweden is a country where “lunch” is not just a meal but a concept of time. Meetings are booked either “before lunch” (11am) or “after lunch” (1pm) – except on Christmas Eve, when everything is different. First, not many people book meetings on Christmas Eve. Second, people may skip lunch altogether and rely on a heavy breakfast to carry them through to the dinner feast.

At Christmastime, Swedes use another concept of time. It’s used only once a year, and it’s not an actual time, either, but it does dictate the movements of an entire nation.

It’s called “Kalle Anka.” You may know it as Donald Duck.

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Eighty-eight miles per hour

Oh, we’re finally here. But, as all fans of Back to the Future know, the appropriate question is not “where the hell are we?”, it’s “when the hell are we?”

That’s what Marty McFly learns from inventor Emmett “Doc” Brown when Doc demonstrates his time machine for the first time in the 1985 film “Back to the Future”, and sends Einstein the dog one minute into the future in a DeLorean sports car.

By the time the sequel rolled around four years later, McFly had learned his lesson:

McFly: “Where are we? When are we?”
Doc: “We’re descending toward Hill Valley, California at 4:29 pm, on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.”

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Why be good

An old man in Indiana named Glenn was once asked at a church meeting about his religion. He replied, “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, that’s my religion.” Now, Glenn’s words of wisdom probably wouldn’t have spread much farther than Indiana if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t heard him speak and later repeated Glenn’s words to describe his own moral compass.

Altruism as a concept isn’t very old. The word itself didn’t exist until 1851 when the French philosopher Auguste Comte coined it based on the Latin word alteri, “others,” but the act of giving may go back to the beginning of time. “When I do good I feel good” is something most of us can relate to.

A good deed does make us feel better. A smile of thanks after you’ve helped a person lift a stroller off a train, or the gratitude in the eyes of a beggar when a few coins land on the bottom of their paper cup, will make you feel like a good person.

And most of us want to be good people. It’s the definition of “good” that varies.

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Make ’em laugh

There’s a circus in town. The trucks and caravans rolled in late the night before, and by morning the big red tent has taken over the parking area of the town’s sports grounds. The entrance is set up, along with the popcorn stands, the candy store, and the ticket booth.

That same night, a bit before 7pm, the band starts to play. As soon as the audience find their seats inside the tent, the ushers close the doors, and with every beat the anticipation rises.

Then a tall man in shoes and pants that are several sizes too big stomps in with a big smile on his face, waving his hands like a conductor. The first laughs echo inside the tent – and the big man hasn’t done anything yet except show up.

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