Dudesons Jarppi and Jukka (wielding the hammer) risking life and limb playing with real tools. The photo has not been manipulated, but was captured with an experimental technique called light-painting. (Photo: Anssi Ranki / One Frame Cinema)
Finland’s Extreme Dudesons hit it big on MTV.
THE DUDESONS (Extreme Duudsonit), namely Jukka, Jarppi, Jarno and HP, are four guys who have gradually goofed their way to worldwide popularity from the lowlands of Southern Ostrobothnia. Once stunting in a small-time cable TV show, these contemporaries of Jackass & Co are now living the dream, filming their upcoming series in the US. SixDegrees reached front man Jukka Hilden from Florida along their tour across the country and talked to him about the past, present and future.
Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve understood it all started from stunts between childhood friends. Did you have dreams of TV stardom already back then?
Absolutely not, we were just kids goofing around. We skated and snowboarded, and filming the tricks was a part of the subculture. And once we got a camera, we didn’t dare let it go, so it followed us everywhere. We’ve known each other since we were ten, and have pretty much documented our life since the beginning of middle school.
In 2001 you ended up having a show on the cable channel MoonTV. How did that come about?
Yeah, Jarno filmed a few movies in the 90s with our stunts in them. We quickly realised that we were better at falling down than actually doing the tricks, so we decided to leave those to the pros and started our own antics. And in 2001 Jarno was doing a traineeship at MoonTV and got the idea of making a show about our life. The funny thing was that we had no idea how to make a TV show, but that was probably the thing behind our quick success: having our own, brand new kind of style.
How big a deal was it for you guys to get the first show?
Well, being young lads from Seinäjoki, we had never even heard of MoonTV. I remember being in the army when Jarno rang to say that the first episode had aired. Except for him, the rest of us really had no understanding of what was going on.
And now you’ve ended up in the US. You’ve had some coverage there before; what does this new deal hold for you?
We’ve appeared in shows like Viva la Bam and Nitro Circus, and our first international season was shown on Spike TV in 2006. We’ve been doing everything in English since 2004, and now all the hard work has finally paid off: we got a deal with MTV. It’s a huge thing for us, as we’ve always wanted to be on the channel where the whole genre once got started. It’s just the right place for us.
I guess it’s a big deal financially as well?
Well, of course we are talking about ten times the sums compared to previous contracts. But the most important thing is that we finally have the budget for carrying out all of our wildest dreams. We’ve always had a lot of ideas for things that haven’t been achievable in Finland.
Over the years, your show has evolved from performing stunts and tricks to a more story-lined approach. Will the US episodes continue in this direction?
The stunts and shenanigans will remain in the main role, but every episode will have a special theme. For example, in one episode we want to become Indians and have a genuine 73-year-old Indian as our mentor to guide us through some rites of passage. It’s about Finnish lads attempting to live out the American dream, with the essential Dudeson-style ever-so present. This brings out the contradictions and cultural differences. But it’s all about self-irony and making fun of ourselves, not the Americans.
Are you guys the same off camera, or does this require a lot of acting?
No, there’s not a least bit of actor in us. We’ve always been the same guys; you can see it in our earliest videos. Jarno is the movie maker while Jarppi is the folksy humorist. I’m the hyperactive one while HP is more serious, and the only one of us with an actual vocation.
Out of the four of you, who speaks the best English?
Well, we all have our designated Ostrobothnian Londonese twist. But it’s good to have a strong accent, the girls love it and it stops the Yankees from boasting with their own slang. (Laughs)
Do you practice stunts beforehand?
No, we never rehearse them. Our principle has always been to do things once and do them properly. That way we get the genuine reactions and surprises that make the best entertainment. And of course it shows, as we’ve had some crack ups and tumbles along the way.
Dudesons on the
Dudesons in America
…And the big:
Now that you’ve mentioned the injuries, what have been the worst ones? And are you guys ever scared?
Well, a lot has happened during the years: concussions, spinal fractures, broken ankles and burns. And Jarppi has lost his thumb. But they are all normal experiences for a growing young man. And of course there’s always some butterflies in your stomach and a lot of adrenaline flowing before the stunts, but that’s exactly what’s cool about the whole thing.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about “branding Finland”. What kind of image of Finland are you taking abroad?
It’s got to be the positive Finnish madness and sisu. We want to show how honest us Finns are, and how we never give up and try to find something positive in every situation. It might differ from the image Jorma Ollila’s Nokia tries to portray, but both are equally good.
Any thoughts about retiring?
Oh no! We’re just getting started. We’ve been warming up for ten years, now it’s time to kick this up a notch!
Dudesons season finale
Fri 5 Mar at 21:30 on Sub
Text: Veli-Matti Peltola
Photo: Anssi Ranki / One Frame Cinema