When you watch enough movies, you come to associate canoe trips with many reprehensible things. Among these unfortunate associations are banjo music, forced sodomy, and leaving the house. Still, undaunted by the twanging intro of “Dueling Banjos” that may or may not have only existed in our heads, a group of intrepid movie fans loaded up and headed to Spring Branch, Texas for the Alamo Drafthouse’s Klown canoe trip and outdoor screening.
While in the film, Casper (Casper Christensen) and Frank (Frank Hvam) are on a Tour de Pussy, we were more or less on a Tour de Someone’s-Assuredly-Not-Making-It-Back. As liquored up as Drafthouse impresario Tim League would allow, which is to say to our eyeballs, we set out on the Guadalupe River and took in the beauty and wonder of nature…as we tried, some of us futilely, to keep from capsizing where it was deep enough, and grinding to an embarrassing halt where the drought had made a puddle of the mighty river. Arriving back at camp at various degrees of dampness, we sat down for a glorious screening of the Danish comedy under the gorgeous Texas sky. I laughed heartily into the mouth of my ever-dwindling flask; delighted to be seeing the film again.
The next day, in the throws of a beautiful hangover, I stumbled into a back room at The Highball in Austin–with no recollection of how I got back to the city–to find the stars of the film restrained in a strange Tiki gulag from whence their release apparently depended on their cooperation with a series of grueling questions. Here now, is my interview with Casper and Frank. Hopefully they were able to escape.
How are you guys?
Casper: It’s been a weird day. We’re trapped in this room. What’s that all about? You bring us all the way over here and then lock us in a tiki room?
And it’s funny, if you walk out the door, you fade away like Field of Dreams.
Well I’m glad to see you two survived your second most infamous canoe trip yesterday.
Casper: It was hard yesterday, it was hard work.
Thank you! It was my first time, and I always assumed the river was supposed to do all the work.
Casper: Maybe if they had water in the river, it would help. But you just kept hearing the boat scrapping on the bottom.
Frank: I totally tipped over. I was wet up to my knee because there was no water.
Droughts are bad for canoes, lesson learned. Speaking of learning lessons, I heard you guys haven’t done much canoeing since the film. Is that true?
Casper: I haven’t done any.
Casper: Because I almost drowned when we shot the movie, that was a terrible day. When we capsized the canoe, we had stuntmen in the water trying to help us if something went wrong. There was a lot of water back there. I had a safe word, I was supposed to yell out “Dennis.” That was the name of the stunt man. We got in that water, it was cold as hell, the clothes were dragging us down, and Bo panicked. So he crawled on top me, and I just sank down. So my mouth was underwater and I yelled (burbles), and he didn’t hear it. That was terrible. (To Frank) You did good, you just swam ashore and saved yourself.
Got out of harm’s way like in the movie when the house was being robbed and you just left Bo.
Casper: That’s what he did!
Frank: That’s me. That’s me simply.
Casper: It’s even in the storyline: “Frank saves the kid…and cut”
Frank: Actually, Americans reacted very heavy to that moment where Frank is running away from the house. The Danish audience didn’t react that much, probably because in Denmark—
Casper: It’s not as dangerous.
Frank: It’s not as dangerous. Of course things can happen but—
Casper: It’s not as bad as being robbed.
Frank: The robbers are rarely armed for example, so it’s not THAT bad. It is a bad thing, but—
Casper: “You always protect your child.”
Frank: Who says that?
Casper: Yeah, what are you talking about “always?”
Yes, always in quotation marks. Doing a movie like this, how do you pack in so much lewd, raunchy humor and still make the characters human and relatable?
Casper: We start out trying to find a good story. A story that we find important. For instance, that every man has the right to become the father he’s capable of being. That’s something we talked about for a long time; Frank has two small kids, I have two bigger ones. We have the right to be the fathers we’re capable of, and as long as you love the child, you can live differently.
Frank: Don’t tell people how to raise their children, as long as they love them.
Casper: So that was an important thing. We had that in mind the whole time and that motivates why the characters go and do the crazy comedy things they do. So that’s why we write the storyline so many times first. We wrote this one twenty to twenty-five times before we were satisfied.
Frank: It’s about motivation. If the audience believes that you’re doing things for a reason, and they can follow that reason, then they are ready for a journey.
So really it’s born of your own personal views of fatherhood?
Casper: At the same time we know that these guys are idiots in their own way. They’re clowns, that’s why the movie is called Klown. In two different ways they’re clowns, but in the end they try to be good. When he’s pointing the gun to try and get that Underberg car, it’s a sign that he wants to do good.
I’m glad you brought that up, what exactly is Underberg?
Casper: Underberg is like a small liquor, a bitter that was popular in the 70s. I remember going camping with my parents and it was a big thing for them to have the Underberg. They were having that in the morning; you get out of the tent, it’s cold, you have a bitter. I remember you had to collect these caps. It seems to have been forgotten now, but of course when you write and you start thinking of canoeing and camping like in your childhood, it comes back. Then I picked up a box of Underberg and sure enough you could get a car if you gathered 288 caps. Then I had an idea for a robbery where instead of robbing money, people robbed caps from the factory. So that’s how we started working that in. It’s kind of got a retro feel to it.
Seemed like some sort of single-shot alcohol but—
Casper: Doesn’t taste good at all.
Frank: Oh, I like it actually.
Really? Well you did drink a lot of it in the movie so I guess that’s good.
Frank: If you can’t avoid it, start loving it.
I know the show has been a hit for a long time in Denmark, but unfortunately there isn’t much access to it in the states. Can you talk a little about what you were able to get away with on the show, and how much you might have had to amp things up for the movie?