Magnus Betnér (4 stars)

Cult comic in the making

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This article is from 2010.

Magnus Betnér

It’s a traditional stand-up tactic to ingratiate yourself upon an audience by finding a connection between yourself and someone in the crowd. Early on Magnus Betnér discovers that there are some fellow Swedes in the front row. This means about as much to him as the knowledge that three reviewers are present tonight: ‘I’m anti-Swede.’ He’s also not too struck on religion, the far right (who he says have spent the last ten years sending him death threats) and those who immediately think necrophiliacs are a bit weird.

For Betnér, there’s logic to many positions and choices in society which are deemed unnatural and this is what makes him such an intriguing comic. It appears that he’s not just taking up a position on an issue (such as the necrophilia or suggesting that abortion be far more readily available and indeed encouraged even after a child is born) simply to be obtuse or controversial: it actually feels as though he truly means it. And when he offers up an explanation, you too might join his way of thinking.

Though his notions on the army are rather pat (join an organisation built on violence and you can’t expect sympathy if you get killed), this is a rare note where his audience isn’t being enlightened. Betnér’s vulnerability also helps to get the crowd on his side, recalling the moment when he accidentally came out as a bisexual, and being frank about his alcoholism. And even when he recommends the comic coming up after him in the same room (Norwegian Dag Soras), there’s nothing showbiz about it, he’s simply passing on a fact and helping out a friend. Authenticity plays a big part of Magnus Betnér’s stand-up and it’s this that might well make him a cult figure before he heads back to Sweden.

The Stand III & IV, 558 7272, until 29 Aug (not 17), 10.20pm, £8 (£7).

This article is from 2010.

Magnus Betnér: Cum all ye Faithful!

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