“Being Norwegian is just like being Finnish, but without the drunkenness.”
This is how the popular Norwegian social media account helgi.and.erlend describes the differences between the two Nordic nations in a video captioned “Gotta love the Finns”.
In the background of the video, as if to emphasise the point, a man in a blue suit is seen struggling to carry a pair of skis.
The comedy duo have nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram, and often set their satirical sights on the customs, cultural differences and languages of the Nordic nations as well as other European countries.
Similarly, Denmark-based content creator Kelly Louise Killjoy produces videos that also poke fun at Nordic stereotypes. Killjoy has 122,000 followers on Instagram and over 1.2 million on TikTok.
One recent video, highlighting the apparent Finnish obsession with free buckets, garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
Killjoy has a number of different concepts for her sketches, including one called the “Nordic Lesson”, where characters from different countries explain how to say a certain word in their language.
The same characters also appear in other videos and have certain recognisable characteristics, with the Finn often portrayed as a reserved character who does not display much outward emotion.
In one video, Killjoy tells the different Nordic characters that she is pregnant, and while the others argue and raise their voices, the Finnish character curses in a low whisper.
This trend, of Nordic nations making fun of each other, seems to have made a comeback in the age of social media, but it’s nothing new. Jokes aimed at Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian stereotypes have been around for decades.
According to humour researcher Paavo Kerkkänen, stereotypes can be a good source of comedy because — when done in the correct way — it can show a familiarity with and affection for the other culture.
“Humourous stories have always been told about neighbouring countries and about people that you don’t necessarily think are true, but they sound fun. It’s the same everywhere. Stereotypes are heard from childhood and are part of the folklore of each country,” Kerkkänen noted.
He added that the jokes are intended to entertain, but also help to forge a sense of belonging, as laughing at the same things strengthens the bonds between the Nordic countries.
“Generally speaking, the sense of humour in the Nordic countries is very similar, if you compare it with, say, the English or the French. But our jokes aimed at each other are quite good-natured,” Kerkkänen said.
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