(artwork by Timo Kokkila)
My chum Mr Methane, the world’s only professional performing flatulist, flew off to Bratislava this morning to spread the fame of British farting. But, in July, an even more important trip beckons.
Saturday 7th July sees the World Fart Championships being held again at Utajärvi in Finland.
I blogged about the Championships back in July 2013.
Mr Methane does not compete, of course – he is a one-off. But he will be hosting the Championships with Finland’s own comic book superhero Phartman played by Esko Väyrynen.
So, obviously, I Skyped Esko Väyrynen to hear more about it.
Britain’s Mr Methane (left) and Finland’s Phartman at the World Fart Championships back in 2013
Phartman performer Esko talked to me via Skype from Finland
JOHN: Your English is very good.
ESKO: I like to watch English police series like Inspector Morse and Lewis and Blackadder and that kind of thing. Strange British comedies are very popular in Finland like Jeeves and Wooster. I like British humour. I don’t know why. Dry humour. With Finnish people, lots of us like British humour.
JOHN: Clearly – because you like farting.
ESKO: Yes. But I do not fart when I eat food or I am eating at the table. It is not civilised behaviour. You have to hold the line somewhere. My mother told me: “Do not fart at the kitchen table or when you are making meals. You have to do it some other time.”
JOHN: Is your mother proud of you appearing as Phartman?
ESKO: I don’t think so. I don’t live for publicity, but I am not ashamed to be farting in public. It is fun for me. But I am lucky. I have two dogs. At home, I can always blame one of the dogs.
JOHN: How many times have the Fart Championships been held?
ESKO: This is only the third time. Five years ago – 2013 – was the first World Championships. One year earlier, in 2012, there was a Finnish Championships. I think this year will be the last time, though.
Utajärvi is a small town with a big superhero (artwork by Timo Kokkila)
ESKO: It takes lots of time and resources and all of us are volunteers, doing it for fun. None of us get paid and it is a very small town, Utajärvi – 3,000 people. We don’t have resources enough – manpower, womanpower or money. Any money we get goes to the local junior soccer club. Even though it is humour, it is humour for good.
JOHN: How many people came to see the event last time?
ESKO: Maybe 500 local people. There was also another event – mud soccer at the same time – a Finnish Championship. Maybe 200 or 300 came to see mud soccer five years ago. We played soccer in mud. That is why maybe 500 people saw the Fart Championships – maybe. And maybe there were 20 people farting; just one woman, though.
JOHN: Was there anyone from abroad?
ESKO: The winners were from Russia. And there was one family from Australia. I don’t know if they came just for the contest; maybe they were in Finland already. I did not ask.
JOHN: Are you Phartman only during the Championships or you do other things as the character during the year?
ESKO: Only at the Championships. Phartman – Peräsmies – is a comic book hero. I am just playing Phartman at these events.
JOHN: Is Phartman like a Marvel superhero?
The original underground Phartman comic (artwork by Timo Kokkila)
ESKO: He is a different type of superhero. He is a former alcoholic and when he was walking there was some type of explosion when pea soup tins spread all over the place and Phartman got hit by one pea soup tin that was radioactive and he ate it and, after he ate it, he got a souperpower for farts and he uses his farts to save the world.
He is not a common superhero like Spider-Man or Iron Man. Of course, he is against crime and criminals but, most times, he helps people accidentally.
He does not know how to use his powers. Almost every time it is an accident.
Son of Fartman is now aimed at school kids (artwork by Timo Kokkila)
Timo Kokkila created Phartman and the comic strip appeared in Pahkasika – it means Warthog in English – a very popular underground magazine, from 1983 to 2000. It was very rare humour in that time. (Phartman was killed-off in the comic strip but) Phartman had a son who has appeared since 2003 in the Koululainen monthly magazine for pupils in school.
JOHN: Do you have a daytime ‘real’ job?
ESKO: I work as a nurse at a hospital.
JOHN: What sort of hospital?
ESKO: I think it is not a surprise that I am a psychiatric nurse in a psychiatric ward – maybe that is one reason for my odd humour.
JOHN: You must be interested in the way people think differently.
ESKO: Maybe. Humans’ thinking is a very difficult thing. It is very hard work and maybe it is one reason I am interested in farting.
JOHN: Escapism, maybe?… In Britain, it seems that a surprising number of comedians have been doctors or trained as doctors. Maybe it releases the pressure?
ESKO: Yes, maybe… Also, always when you meet someone from Britain, you have to ask: What kind of weather is there? Is it raining?
JOHN: Surprisingly not. There is a bright blue sky with small white fluffy clouds. Hot and humid. Have you been to Britain?
ESKO: No. I do not fly, but it has always been my daydream to go by ship to Scotland and see soccer clubs – Rangers versus Celtic – or a Scottish pub. That is my daydream.
(artwork by Timo Kokkila)