Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Magnificent Sven

How Swede it is!

When I began writing my new melodrama ROXANNE OF THE ISLANDS OR THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SARONG, I needed a distinctive character for the first mate of the sea captain hero, and found one that I had long wanted to incorporate into one of my shows. It has suddenly dawned on me that this guy and I go way back in time, all the way to a western ghost town far, far away. So let me introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years...

Sven Bjorn Bjord Gunther.

I didn't actually name him. A bunch of us use to watch The Muppet Show back in the day and I began to riff on The Swedish Chef, a favorite of all of all ours. In retrospect, it was probably as annoying as anyone and everyone who said "Excuse me!" in the worst Steve Martin impersonation ever. Anyway, my friend Greg came up with this name and it fit like a wooden shoe. (Yes, I know that's Dutch. Thanks you for your unnecessary correction)

At the same time, I had returned to the Pollardville Ghost Town (at that time re-named Tule Flats) for an extended stint as a weekend gunslinger. One of the gunfight skits we performed entitled "Poker Chip" featured a storekeeper character and, being the comic genius I purported to be, transformed him into Sven. By then, Sven had evolved, meaning that I ripped off another bit, that being Tim Conway's Mr. Tudball on The Carol Burnett Show. My, what a shameless thief I had  been. Truth to tell, I stole a lot from Conway and I don't mind saying it. He has always been a major inspiration for me. During a Fourth of July celebration at the Ghost Town, we opted to have a mayoral election. Of course. Sven had to run and, of course, Sven lost. Ah well. That day, a customer told me that my accent was wonderful and wouldn't I like to meet their friend visiting from Stockholm? No, I didn't. I soon put Sven out to pasture before he overstayed his welcome.

But as soon as I started writing ROXANNE, Sven Bjorg Bjorg Gunther had to part of the cast, no ifs, ands or buts about it. He changed once more, becoming a little bit more like the great character actor John Qualen, a member of the John Ford stock company of players in good standing. Probably best remembered as Muley in THE GRAPES OF WRATH, he can also be seen in Ford's THE SEARCHERS and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE , but also poor Earl Williams in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. His role in THE LONG VOYAGE HOME is probably the closest to Sven himself, almost an exact role model.

So that's the story of the impact this Swedish meatball had on my life. In the words of The Swedish Chef himself...


Whatever that means.


Paperback comin soon. Performance rights are available. For more info, write: