The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest was a predictably colorful affair, and paid off two of the best gags from Will Ferrell’s The Story of Fire Saga.
Two of Will Ferrell’s best jokes from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga were paid off in this year’s real life competition held in Rotterdam. For the uninitiated, the Eurovision Song Contest is a yearly musical jamboree in which Europe and Australia defy trend and taste in a uniquely camp explosion of elaborate staging and saccharine pop tunes. Though the rest of the world might look on in disbelief, the Eurovision Song Contest still holds a curious appeal all of its own. 2021’s event took place in May, and was won by Italy’s Led-less Zeppelin, Maneskin, who sang “Zitti e Buoni.”
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One man who discovered the delights of Eurovision relatively late in life is Will Ferrell, introduced to the phenomenon through his wife, who hails from Sweden. The revelation inspired Ferrell to write, produce and star in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Based around the fictional Icelandic duo of Fire Saga (Ferrell’s Lars and Rachel McAdams’ Sigrit), The Story of Fire Saga is a loving, yet hilarious, parody of the classic Eurovision tropes, telling a compelling story with an original and quirky comic flavor that fans of the song contest, and non-believers can enjoy.
In a strange twist of fortune, however, life has ended up imitating art, as two moments from The Story of Fire Saga were paid off during this year’s festivities, the most obvious being the prevalence of “Jaja Ding Dong.” Throughout the film, Lars yearns to play meaningful music to the locals in his Icelandic home town, but all anyone wants to hear is his euphemism-filled “Jaja Ding Dong” track, and one bearded punter in particular, played by Olaf Yohansson, makes a name for himself by shouting “play Jaja Ding Dong!” at the band. In a stroke of meta genius, Yohansson was selected by Iceland to announce the country’s jury points at this year’s live Eurovision Song Contest. Fully in character, Yohansson asked for “Jaja Ding Dong,” leaving the hosts flustered and the crowd delighted. He then announced “12 points to Jaja Ding Dong!” before finally (and reluctantly) giving Iceland’s top score to Switzerland. For fans of The Story of Fire Saga, it was the moment of the night.
But Will Ferrell’s fun wasn’t over. When the count was done, the United Kingdom finished dead last, without even a single point. The UK has routinely finished last in recent years, though this is no reflection on the country’s entry, James Newman, who clearly wasn’t so bad as to deserve such a drubbing. Fortunately, The Story of Fire Saga can explain. When Lars and Sigrid attend a party hosted by Alexander Lemtov (played by the UK’s own Dan Stevens), he introduces the other acts in typically brash fashion. Getting to the British entry, Lemtov says, “this Julia Jay, she come number 1 England’s Got Talent four years ago, so she quite good, but everybody hates UK so ‘zero points.’“
Released in June 2020, a year when Eurovision took a break, Will Ferrell must’ve been secretly hoping 2021’s event would pay homage to The Story of Fire Saga, and things couldn’t have turned much better in that regard, with “Jaja Ding Dong” getting plenty of love, and the UK proving that 5 years of Brexit hasn’t done much for the country’s popularity. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is easily some of Ferrell’s best work in years, both in terms of his writing, and as a lead character. Not since Ron Burgundy’s first bulletin has Ferrell’s comedy been so smart, universal and effortless, and 2021’s Eurovision proves how much the film resonated with fans of the competition.
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