Carl-Einar Häckner is Big In Sweden
Carl-Einar Häckner @ Le Cascadeur
11:45pm, Thu 11 Mar 2010
As we file into Le Cascadeur, it’s obvious the stage is just littered with shit. Bits of paper, tatty boxes, cheap plastic toys, crusty tables… there’s junk everywhere.
And then this blonde Swedish chap strides onstage, accidentally headbutts his microphone, and stammers something vaguely apologetic in broken English. He cracks a few weak jokes about Ikea, attempts a lame magic trick with a banana (which he just winds up eating), snorts softly at his own jokes, and headbutts the microphone again.
We’re laughing, though. Oh god, are we laughing.
Häckner picks up a guitar and starts strumming a song for us; the instrument shatters after a few strums and he looks at us forlornly, before breaking into a big goofy grin. A few more lame jokes, a bit of singing, leveraging the accent for comedy value; a bit more chuckling into the mike. It’s all so silly, and we can’t stop laughing.
But suddenly, all the magic comes good. There’s an awesome ace-of-spades card trick that appears from nowhere that catches us off-guard; it’s a great trick, and amongst all the laughter it’s a real surprise. And then there’s a rabbit-in-the-hat trick that goes awfully wrong – the rabbits are burnt to a crisp – and I’m completely sold; gasping from laughter, I’m barely capable of comprehending the tricks that he appears to accidentally be pulling off.
In fact, the flattest part of the entire performance was when Häckner continually queried Irene with “do you see yourself?”, upon which she refused to be drawn… but even that was still amusing.
In short – Carl-Einar Häckner was a revelation. Equal parts silly humour, ridiculous props, and gob-smacking magic, his show was a magnificent mess that managed to entertain far beyond expectations.