Magnus Carlsen appears in hilarious reality TV show

The chess world has become used to seeing Magnus Carlsen appear on TV shows, but the World Champion appearing on a reality TV show is a first. On Friday, VG TV is releasing “Ikke lov å le på hytta” (“Don’t Laugh In The Cabin”), where Carlsen is joined by 11 of Norway’s funniest comedians and influencers, all stuck together in a cabin. There’s only one rule: you cannot laugh. chess24 got an exclusive peek look.

Perhaps you would think that Magnus Carlsen has better things to do these days, but during one long film shoot in May, the 30-year-old made his debut, and perhaps only ever appearance, on a reality TV show.

The second season of “Don’t Laugh In The Cabin”, broadcast on the online TV/entertainment channel VG TV, is not an ordinary reality TV show, but the rules are pretty clear: whoever can make others laugh, while avoiding cracking up at the other contestants’ jokes, wins the prize.

“In general, I can tell people: don’t watch! It’s just awkward”, Carlsen told TV 2 a couple of weeks after shooting.

Fellow Norwegian grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer responded, “That’s got to be the best reason for me to watch the show!”

Carlsen is joined by two actors, a couple of TV hosts, a former world-class handball player, a writer and a bunch of influencers and comedians. The World Champion is by far the biggest star on the show, as is clear by VG adding English subtitles to his comments in their highlights and doing a news story in English.

“The most difficult part for me by far will be not to laugh at my own jokes, because I think I’m very funny and I always start to grin a bit when I think of something funny, even without saying it,” Carlsen said before the start of the show.

After getting an exclusive look at the first two episodes, it seems clear the World Champion does a pretty good job at not cracking up, but at times he struggled to make others laugh. As he told VG:

I thought I was funny, but I was wrong. I was surprised at how hard it was to get the others to laugh.

He did make some attempts, though, as can be seen in this clip during one roast that he later concluded was mostly mean and not very funny.

In one exchange, one contestant made a pretty poor attempt at making the World Champion laugh.

Fladseth: So, Magnus, will you be playing the Ruy Lopez or the Sicilian against Nepomniachtchi?

Carlsen: The Italian, maybe.

Fladseth: The Italian! He hasn’t been particularly strong in the Italian, has he?

Carlsen: What do you know about that?

Fladseth: I am following a bit.


Fladseth: Put this guy in handcuffs to try some small talk!

Carlsen revealed a trick during one session where he was being roasted, and struggling not to laugh. He chose to play a game of chess against himself in his mind to distract himself from laughing. 

“About 40 moves later, in bullet tempo, the game ended in a draw,” he said.

Carlsen received some “praise” for his appearance as well.

“Magnus Carlsen surprised me positively. He is not as much of an idiot as he appears in the media,” Martin Beyer-Olsen said.

“Magnus surprised me greatly in the sense that he could be pretty cruel,” TV host Einar Tørnqvist said.

The highlights from Carlsen’s appearance, with subtitles, can be found in the clip below.

The first episode launches on September 17th, with the following six episodes aired weekly on Fridays.

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