Norwegian jokes

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Explaining Stereotypes, Analysis of Jokes About Norwegians

1. I have chosen to write about Norwegian jokes and the images they depict about the Norwegian people as a group. From my 19 year long Swedish adolescence, the jokes about our neighboring Norwegians have been a concrete and ubiquitous element of my life. They have played a significant role for my conception of Norwegians, along with media coverage and interpretations in movies. These sources are most often more influential than meetings and actual encounters that occur more scarcely. To my knowledge, the mockery disguised in humor between Scandinavian countries (at least Norway, Sweden and Finland) has been present for many decades. Since these jokes are a part of everyday life, everyone more or less internalizes the image of “stupid Norwegians” which effectively carries on through oral tradition from generation to generation, conforming the people’s mindsets into the shape of the previous generations’.

2. Five jokes about Norwegians:
1. How do you sink a Norwegian submarine?
- You swim down and knock on the door.
How do you sink a Norwegian submarine a second time?
- You swim down and knock on the door, then the Norwegian crew opens and says:
”Haha, we’re not buying that again!”
How do you sink a Swedish submarine?
- You put in a Norwegian crew.
2. A Norwegian, Ola, had just become an astronaut and was going up in the space for the first time. With him he had a monkey.
Control tower: “If there is a red light, the monkey should do something and if there is a green light, Ola should do something.”
They both nodded.
Red light: “Monkey, start the engine.”
The monkey started the engine without problems.
Red light: “Monkey, initiate launch process.”
So did the monkey.
Red light: “Monkey, release emergency rockets.”
No problems for the monkey.
Ola started to get bored from not doing anything and sighed loudly.
Red light: “Place the shuttle in the correct orbit.”
The monkey carried through the instructions.
“Yes, finally I’m going to do something,” Ola thought.
”Ola, feed the monkey.”

3. How do you know Jesus could not be found in Norway?
- It’s impossible to find three wise men there.

4. A Norwegian was involved in a car accident, and the police came up and asked him: “Who is responsible for this crash?”
The Norwegian: “I don’t know, I was looking in another direction.”

5. What do they call smart people in Norway?
- Tourists!

Sources: (In Swedish)

3. The clear message in all of the five jokes is that Norwegians are stupid. Joke nr. 2 points out that they are even more stupid than monkeys, some of the other jokes compare the intelligence of Norwegians to other nationalities (1 & 5), whereas joke nr. 3 uses a well known biblical reference in order to get the message through. Many of the jokes I encountered (and was utterly amused by) during the research involved cars and police. These are objective symbols that coexist in both cultures. Some of the jokes just express mere hate for the Norwegians, but the majority are rather innocent. A few jokes assert that even when the Norwegians try to imitate Swedes, they fail. Most jokes are shorter dialogues with someone asking “do you know why…?,” followed by a necessary “no,” and is succeeded by the witty punch-line: “because…!”

4. Brief statement about the Norwegian stereotype:
Norwegians are stupid, frolicsome and carefree. This is the general conception people in Sweden have of Norwegians.

5. The background to the jokes is the old neighbor rivalry between Sweden and Norway, which makes the purpose of the jokes resistant to drastic change. Norway has always been seen as the “little brother” of Sweden, but lately, the family ties have started to turn around. There are two main reasons that the jokes portrait Norwegians as being stupid.
1. First, their melody of speech is constantly optimistic. It is impossible to imagine a verbal fight between two Norwegians. Swedes are annoyed by this. When they speak, it sounds like they are singing cheerful songs rather than having serious conversations.
2. The second reason we make more fun of the Norwegians than the Finns is that we use an unconscious psychological defense mechanism to protect us against the bothering situation. In reality, the Norwegians have the luck of having great oil resources outside their coastline, which brings them steady economical advantages, while the rest of the Scandinavia is experiencing volatile economical ups and downs. By saying that they are stupid, we blame “luck” to be the factor explaining why they currently are more successful than us.

Considering this, the study of Norwegian jokes must go beyond racial and ethnic observations to instead include factors such as history and economy. Their racial characteristics (attractive blondes) are considered same as the those for Swedes, hence jokes about those would logically backfire.
The global generalization of Norwegians (and the rest of the Scandinavian population) seems to concern physical appearance rather than psychological qualities. This means the traits in the jokes differ from the global conception of Norwegians, simply because there are two different perspectives of ethnocentrism; one from within the Scandinavia (“Norwegians are stupid”) and one looking at Scandinavia from outside (“Scandinavians, including Norwegians are attractive blondes”).
The stereotype of Norwegians appear to match the American view on Poles which is used globally by different groups of people to make fun of others. Also blondes in general have a reputation for being s...

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