This is Petra Mede
Wanna get to know this year's host of the Eurovision Song Contest? Here is all you need to know about Petra Mede.
Petra Mede (born March 7, 1970) is a Swedish comedian and television host, having retired due to injury, from a previous life in the performing arts in Paris and Stockholm. She first stepped into the limelight due to her success at stand-up comedy at the Bungy Comedy competition in March 2005, but also largely from her subsequent roles in comic television shows like Morgonsoffan, Parlamentet and Stockholm Live, these being amongst Sweden’s most popular TV shows.
In 2009 she was voted Sweden’s best female comedian and became the host of Melodifestivalen, where the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen. Petra’s unique raw sense of humour led her to start her own Petra Mede Show on TV3 and today she continues to host A-list events, conferences, television shows and gigs all over Sweden.
Mede was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but only spent 3 years there before her family moved to Partille, a quiet suburb of Sweden’s second largest city, Göteborg, so her father could start a new career with Volvo’s financing program.
Moving to Partille also meant leaving the watchful eye of her maternal grandmother, a French and German teacher who lived in Stockholm. A true role model and source of comic inspiration, her grandmother would have a central role in the development of her eccentric and extrovert spirit.
Mede, like her grandmother, never felt that she fitted into the typical Swedish ‘mould’ of getting married and having children in a quiet suburb of Stockholm or Goteborg. Instead she had a vision of herself living in a penthouse overlooking Central Park, holding a nice cocktail, an idea that would materialise many years later in her career,during the Petra Mede Show.
Having never truly settled in to Goteborg, Mede would move back to Stockholm by the end of her teenage years. Yet growing up between the east and west of Sweden would give her a keen insight on the contrasts in typical humours, accents and mannerisms of the two.
Mede had her first taste of ballet at the tender age of 6, but would only take classes intermittently for some years. When she was 10 years old, a memorable schoolteacher would expose her class to the performing arts by arranging plays in which she would always participate with great fervour. Encouraged by this teacher, at 12 she applied for and was accepted to pursue dance training at the Swedish Ballet Academy.
By a lucky twist of fate, a sudden growth spurt would soon direct her toward modern ballet, theatre and contemporary dance, a direction, it would turn out, much more suited to her and her passions. Mede graduated at 18 and was hired for her first professional Dance role at the ‘Stora Teatern’ in Göteborg.
Craving new adventure, Mede soon realised she wanted to depart from Sweden to explore new horizons, preferably while continuing her dance training. She applied for a grant set up by the late Carina Ari, a Swedish born prima ballerina of 1930s Paris who lived in Montmartre and donated her fortune upon her death to help young Swedish dancers.
The grant was handed to Petra by Princess Christina at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, in the renowned ‘Guldfoajén’. Petra recalls crossing the hall in its length in a state of extreme nervousness and as she did so,with all eyes on her and in the presence of royalty and the Swedish Dance elite, she stumbled! The Carina Ari grant allowed her to pursue her training for 8 months at La Salle Pleyel in Paris, where she took dance lessons along side legends of the likes of Zizi Jeanmaire.
It was during one of these classes that Mede had her first breakthrough in the world of television, as a scout spotted and invited her to participate as a background dancer in Dimanche Martin, Jacques Martin’s well adored Sunday afternoon entertainment show. As a student the extra income was welcome, so she took it up and ended working along side a young Celine Dion prior to her rise to fame, as well as Rika Zarai.
After her training at La Salle Pleyel, Mede returned to Sweden to dance for a brief period with the renown Swedish choreographer Ivo Cramér, until she suffered a series of back injuries that would mark the end of her dancing career. Mede’s twenties would prove the darkest period of her life as she struggled with rehab for her injuries.
At the end of her twenties, she went to Stockholm University to obtain a bachelor degree majoring in French and minoring in another of her great passions, the history of Stockholm. She then became a tour guide of the city for a couple of years, a position that helped her develop confidence and spontaneity in her public speaking.
Success in Comedy and TV
This new chapter of her life began when a close friend mentioned a stand up comedy competition, the Bungy Comedy, that they decided to take part in together in March 2005. Out of some 20 participants Mede came second in the semi-final, but in the final she came first. The prize was her first public gig in one of Stockholm’s biggest comedy clubs.
Inspired by this unexpected break, Mede continued gigging for over a year in small bars and clubs around Stockholm, using this time to sculpt a comedy style of her own. It was at one of these gigs in 2007 that a scout invited her to join a comedy TV panel show called ‘Extra Extra’. This would be Petra’s first breakthrough on Swedish TV.
A few months later, another scout who had seen this first show invited her to take part in Parlamentet. This can be seen, in a manner of speech, as Petra’s graduation to being an established Swedish comedian. She would continue to appear on the show sporadically for several years.
In 2008 Petra co-hosted Morgonsoffan alongside one of Sweden’s top comedians, David Batra. A parody of the typical morning TV show, the duet played on a binary opposition of character between the two presenters, one acting the smart cynical role with the other acting the imbecile. Through this comic frame, interviews and daily news was presented.
By 2009, Mede was voted best female comedian in Sweden through her uniquely blunt and brazen comedy style and overnight, became a household name. Soon after she was asked to be the host of Melodifestivalen, a six-week long music competition where the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen. Over 3.5million people tuned in to watch the live semi-finals and finals of Melodifestivalen, over a third of the population of Sweden.
Petra was offered to start her own show on TV3 the following year, the Petra Mede Show. Well reviewed in the media, the show featured celebrity guests, interviews and gossip in a luxury New York style penthouse setting, while Mede injected a comic twist through her highly eccentric and extravagant acts.
In 2011 she was invited to host one of the biggest events of the Swedish A-list calendar, Guldbaggegalan, the Swedish movie awards. She delivered a masterful performance and was invited again to host the awards in 2012.
The same year Petra participated in Maestro on SVT, a reality TV show featuring celebrities competing over a period of 6 weeks to conduct the Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester at the Berwaldhallen. In 2013 she was invited back to the show, but rather than compete, she would once again take over from Kristian Luuk as the host.
In 2012 Petra also took part in Högklackat, a comedy show featuring mini-sketches exclusively by female talents. Not only did she take part in the show, she was also one of the main writers and minds behind the concept.
In 2013 we will see her take part in Svensk Humor, a new show on SVT, featuring top comedians displaying the very best of Swedish humor.