MICF: Carl-Einar Häckner

It’s well-known that competition for limited resources leads to conflict. At MICF 2012 there’s a war for your precious time and dollars, and through his show Handluggage, Sweden’s Carl-Einar Häckner should be making some comedians very nervous about their immediate future. With magic, song and general kookiness, the former La Clique performer seems to be saying to many, albeit in a quiet, awkward way given his lack of confidence in English “I can kick your arse in my second (or maybe third?) language!”

Carl-Einar Häckner
Carl-Einar Häckner

Right from the start Häckner puts a twist on the show with an extended, bizarre sequence on just getting onto the stage. Attempting some magic tricks, he shows himself to be a very clever operator, stretching the buffoonery of failed attempts just far enough so that it snaps back with real zing when he pulls off something amazing. Oddities with language as he introduces sections gave big laughs and his physical humour seems to grab laughs from thin air.

After the show Häckner mentioned that his influences included Tommy Cooper, Victor Borge and Steve Martin, and that he likes routines where “you can’t see the work”. He’s done an awful lot of thinking about this show so that we don’t see the work involved in the set-up, which is why the laughs are so big.

If you’re still undecided about going, I don’t know if we have anything in an Australian idiom that comes close to describing this show. Maybe the deliberate, clever stiltedness of Shaun Micallef and the physical prowess of Frank Woodley give a very rough orbit, but truly Häckner is a singular bright star.

Actually, Häckner is too big of a star for the room he is in. The impact of his card tricks and dexterity will be reduced for those in the back half of the room. Possibly a projector and screen would help give those at the back a better view of the tricks.

Watching a show with such unpredictable turns was a genuine delight, and this was one of the funniest performances I’ve seen in years. Now that I know how much Swedes can enrich my life, pass me the herring!

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