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Magnus Betner: Cum All Ye Faithful

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Marissa Burgess

At first glance Swedish comic Magnus Betner appears to be a bit of a misanthrope. But like infamous American comedic grump Doug Stanhope, although Betner seem to have an issue with the world in actual fact most of what he says is from a pretty liberal perspective. An advocate of freedom of speech and civil liberties for all, you can’t help but feel that those who find his shtick controversial haven’t really been listening.

There’s no doubt he has strong views on most topics and is unafraid to issue forth with them with unerring frankness; there’s no pussy-footing around or sugar coating here. His use of English (his second language of course) is forthright to say the least - god is described simply as ‘an asshole’. It’s provocative and he doesn’t seem to care if he offends but then if you’re taking on board a lot of what he says he talks a whole lot of sense.

There’s some logical atheist theorising about god or rather the lack of ‘Him’. He muses on the fact that you can’t smack kids yet it’s perfectly acceptable to circumcise your son before he’s old enough to make his own decision. He’s a feminist too, as he notes himself, discussing the nature versus nurture debate when bringing up girls and boys. In regard to sexuality it makes no sense to him how men can find anal sex with a man an abhorrent idea yet spend time and energy pursuing it with woman. Then, rather than uncharitably lampooning fat people as many comedians do , he celebrates them as fellow hedonists for refusing to put a cap on their enjoyment of food, advocating the view that you should have as much fun as you can in this short life.

Perhaps the only time he really touches on a topic that seems extreme is his tongue-in-cheek suggestion that ‘abortion’ is the answer for the more annoying under fives but then these are just gags after all. Plus he has five-year-old daughter, whom he declares he loves to pieces to soften the material.

Tonight Betner seemed to take a little while to get started, possibly as it’s late in the Fringe and he’s spent much of it pickling himself. As he points out in Sweden being drunk everyday for 15 years is considered alcoholism, in Scotland it’s just liking a drink. As well as a drink problem (or more than likely because it) he also touches on his depression, further flashing his sensitive side.

Overall, it’s easy to see why he’s equally a popular and controversial figure back in his native Sweden, and it can’t be long before he begins to break over here.

Review date: 30 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess

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