Norwegian duo shares humor of life in song

The experience of chasing the garbage trunk in your long underwear, carrying the trash that you neglected to set out the night before, might seem to most people to be an unlikely topic for a song.

But to Uppstad & Waade, it’s exactly the type of experience that conjures up a melody. The Norwegian entertainers perform twice daily in Norsk Hstfest’s Skien mezzanine with their melancholic comedy, which they call melancomedy.

“It’s not ‘hilarious’ funny,” Per Uppstad said. “But it makes you reflect.”

Their songs and stories talk about those fleeting episodes in life that evoke emotion or embarrassment and make you either want to laugh at yourself or cry. Family life is a great source of material for the two husbands and fathers. Uppstad has four children and Waade two.

“We do what many comedians do. We try and get a funnier and more thoughtful perspective on everyday life, particularly the relationships between people,” Waade said.

Uppstad said their shows are about love and sorrow. And conflict and trouble, Waade added.

The duo has known each other for 25 years, although they’ve been performing together only since 2005. They met as part of a choir that Waade conducted. Uppstad, who became a linguist, and Waade, who is a music teacher and school official, said something happened one day when they were talking and making music.

“I just played a few chords and he started telling a story,” Waade said. They could sense that what they were doing would resonate with people.

Uppdahl said they haven’t given up their day jobs “but we spend a lot of time doing this because it’s fun and it makes sense.”

Waade said they have been fortunate that their home community of Stavanger has supported their efforts and it has been easy to find audiences eager to see them perform.

They have performed around Norway at various events. They developed a themed show that they took on tour to the lighthouse venues all along the Norwegian coast.

Occasionally, they’ve performed for crowds that included English speakers, but their visit to the United States this week is offering an opportunity to truly test the translation of their material. Taking the story from one culture to a different culture, where words can have different associations, is a challenge, they said.

Waade said they know that music and certain life experiences are universal. There can be language gaps in communication, though, he said, and they are curious to see what their Hstfest audiences reveal for them in that regard.

Uppstad & Waade performed in New York before arriving in Minot and will appear at an international festival in Minneapolis before returning to Norway.

They perform at Hstfest today and Friday at noon and 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon.