Transborder Café: Humour, seriously

Project Spotlight: Russian and Norwegian comedians explore satire, censorship, humour and hope

Création Collaboration circumpolaire Avenir possible
A promotional image shows a grid of seven black-and-white portraits of participants in the discussion, with the text “TRANSBORDER CAFE” in white on a bright pink background.

Lighthearted, dry, sharp, or black? Humour and comedy are things that often bring people together, and historically have been an essential element in everyday life. But, more and more boundaries are being set for comedy. At the same time, online comedy has become a globalized phenomenon, making stand-up and satire something which can cross borders and open up for new audiences.

Note: This event was organized prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. See Pikene på Broen’s statement on the invasion here

A promotional image shows a grid of seven black-and-white portraits of participants in the discussion, with the text “TRANSBORDER CAFE” in white on a bright pink background.

In Russia, comedians are obliged to censor their material for their own safety, while in Norway the decisions by National TV stations to “cancel” comedy shows that have received criticism, connect to global debates around humour, morality, and the comedian’s craft in the contemporary moment. 

In relation to the festival’s theme “Where do we go from here?”, we turn our attention to humour as something that is essential in life—perhaps a place to escape, or something to be used as a coping mechanism when the future looks bleak. How is our sense of humour affected by major political events, personal tragedies and the global challenges that touch us all? Can “Corona Humour” online be a tool against self-censorship and allow people to talk more freely about taboo topics across national borders?

This Transborder Café invites comedians and those including humour within their lives and work to discuss and reflect on the border-crossing role of humour and comedy today. 

Join the debate and split your sides with some border-crossing stand-up!


Thomas Leikvoll (Vadsø)—Former programme leader for TV 3 and TV 2. A passionate comedy club performer who has toured throughout Norway, generously sharing his self-deprecating stories of failure with a humour that is able to reach a broad audience.

Tatyana Lazareva (Moscow)—A well-known actor and the former host of a comedy show, where she lost her position with the Russian state TV channel after showing support for the opposition movement who supported Alexei Navalny between 2012-14. She is still working within the world of media, and now has her own Youtube Channel with over 107,000 subscribers.

Tommy Berg (Alta)—A well-known Socialist Left Party (SV) politician, employee at DNB bank and leader of Altarevyen (musical comedy). He has won several prizes for his musical comedy, while his comedy skits and sketches have been translated into many languages.

Vladimir Bukharov (Moscow)—Stand-up comedian and Moscow’s stand-up movement apostle, author of the Bukharog live podcast where he meets with other comedians on-air. Vladimir is one of the founders of the famous club Stand-Up Club #1 in the centre of Moscow. One of its residents (Idrak Merzalizade) was arrested in 2021 and banned from Russia because of a joke.  

Nikolai Parshin (Murmansk)—Actor and author of several teams of the Top KVN (Club of the Funny and Inventive) league, editor of Murmansk KVN league, author and participant of regional humour projects.


Evgeny Goman (Murmansk)—Theatre manager and director at Arctic Theatre, founder of ImprovMurmansk (course and show in improvisation comedy) and producer at Pikene på Broen

Morten Traavik (Oslo)—Director, artist and founder of Traavik Info.

Credit: This event was originally broadcast live on February 24, 2022 as part of Barents Spektakel. COURTESY PIKENE PÅ BROEN. 

This story is part of the Pikene på Broen Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.