Now 19:15 - 21:00It Comes at Night (Germany)
Tonight21:00 - 22:40Witchcraft (Germany)

Who Was Dirch Passer?


 Dirch Passer

Who Was Dirch Passer?
The Man Who Made Denmark Laugh

Danish comedy is one of the greatest hidden mysteries in Europe, a shining gem set aside for the most exclusive tastes. Perhaps because of the boundaries of language, it is still unknown in many corners of the world, but that does not disprove its quality.

One of the most prominent figures in Danish comedy history is Dirch Passer, a man born in Copenhagen in 1926 in a family who loved sailing. To his parents’ (Ragnhild and Wilhelm Passer) grief, Dirch developed persistent problems with seasickness, and could not accomplish his father’s dream of becoming a sailor or joining the Danish Navy.

Passer was always tempted by acting since childhood. In an anecdote recalled by his mother, “Dirch took a valuable silver spoon of the house and pawned it in order to get money to go to the movies.” Years later, Passer himself would be starring in plenty of films to great acclaim by critics and the public.

After dropping out of a sea training school, Dirch Passer joined the “revue” (a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches) scene of the country, and rapidly formed a duo with his colleague and friend Kjeld Petersen. The pair developed a series of sketches where a contrast between their personalities became a trademark and favorite for the Danish people. Petersen’s mixture of joviality and desperate anger and Passer’s deadpan responses are still considered classics of Danish comedy.

In 1962, after more than ten years as an established act, Kjeld Petersen died and Dirch left the revue scene for some time. Those years, since Passer’s days of fame and his dealing with his friend’s demise, are portrayed in the film A Funny Man, in which actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas performs an award-winning incarnation of the comedian.

Upon his return to the stage, Dirch wanted also to be considered a dramatic actor, and to go beyond comedy in more serious roles. However, his image as a comedian was so solid that when he attempted it, the moment he showed himself on stage, the audience broke in laughter. Such a reaction saddened Passer greatly, and because of that, he only attempted a dramatic role once.

Passer’s cult status has been elevated by the manner of his passing. He died on September 3, 1980, at the Copenhagen Municipal Hospital of cardiac arrest after collapsing on stage immediately before a show. He was pronounced dead after about two hours of resuscitation attempts.

Dirch Passer’s legacy is still admired in Denmark, and his talent can be seen in 90 movies.

Return to A Funny Man



Sign up for the Eurochannel Newsletter!

Don't miss our latest line-up, exclusive sweepstakes and events!