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April Fools’ Day Special:
Oh, you know.
⁓The Voice before the Void
“Ole and Lena”
Ole and Lena (along with Sven and Helga and Lars) are central characters in jokes by Scandinavian Americans, particularly in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, particularly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota where Scandinavian immigrant traditions are common. The popularity of the jokes was enhanced by the numerous Ole and Lena joke books authored by Red Stangland.
Ole and Lena jokes can be long and drawn-out stories, or as short as two or three sentences. Ole and Lena are typically Norwegian, and Sven and his wife are Swedish.
One would not find Ole and Lena jokes in Sweden or Norway. Rather, they are an outgrowth of an immigrant experience. Language mistakes are a frequent source of Ole and Lena joke material. The characters of the jokes speak with the marring accent and fractured English of the recently arrived immigrant. Turning misunderstandings and mistakes into jokes enabled people to jest about their American immigrant experience.
The core of this folk humor may lie in the strongly egalitarian code that permeates the culture of the Nordic countries. Maybe.
Ole is on his deathbed. The doctor has told him he has only a few hours to live. Continue reading →