Ylvis is a comedy duo from Bergen, Norway consisting of brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker. They debuted as professional variety artists in 2000 and have since had a string of highly successful variety shows, comedy concerts, television shows, radio shows and music videos. They are currently the hosts of popular Norwegian talk show, I kveld med Ylvis (Tonight with Ylvis). Written and filmed for the talk show, their song and music video "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" went viral on YouTube in September 2013 with over 300 million views to date, bringing the brothers to international attention.
Vegard (born 1979) and Bård (born 1982) Urheim Ylvisåker were born in Bergen to parents from the Sogn district of western Norway, the older two of three brothers. Their early childhood years were spent in Angola and Mozambique, where their father was an engineer during the civil wars there. After a few years inAfrica, the family moved back to Bergen, where the brothers received a musical upbringing and were trained in classical instruments. Vegard played the double bass and Bård theviolin. However, both quit during their youth, Vegard instead focusing on guitar, voice and comedy, and Bård on voice, comedy and acrobatics such as aerial silk.
While attending high school at Fana gymnas, they were heavily involved in school and variety shows as well as the school choir. During a performance, they were spotted by impresario Peter Brandt, who orchestrated their debut as professional variety artists at Ole Bull Teater in Bergen in 2000. Their debut show was called Ylvis en kabaret (Ylvis: A Cabaret).
In 2006, the brothers signed a management contract with the live production company Stageway. They also debuted as hosts on national broadcasting with the radio show O-fag (O studies, named after a subject previously taught in Norwegian primary schools, a combination of science and social studies) on NRK Radio.
In January 2007, they again took to the stage at Ole Bull Theater with a new variety show, Ylvis møter veggen (Ylvis Meets the Wall). This show was even more successful than their previous shows, and they toured on and off for almost three years, the last show being played in Odda in western Norway in December 2009. The show was also recorded and published on DVD. Also in 2007, they debuted as hosts on national television with the show Norges herligste (Norway's Most Wonderful), a version of the Swedish show 100 höjdare(100 Highs). This was also hugely popular and was released on DVD as well as broadcast on Swedish TV.
2008 saw their return to radio with a second series of the show O-fag and also a new TV show based on their Ylvis møter veggen stage show on TVNorge, a game show concept inspired by the "Brain Wall", a feature in the Japanese game show Tonneruzu no Minasan no Okage deshita on Fuji TV.
The success of Ylvis møter veggen was followed up by another game show, Hvem kan slå Ylvis (Who can beat Ylvis?) in 2009, based on the German show Schlag den Raab (Beat Raab). Members of the public were invited to try to beat the brothers at various tasks, tempted by a reward of up to one million Norwegian kroner.
In 2010, owing to the success of "Norges herligste", they hosted "Nordens herligste" ("Scandinavia's Most Wonderful"), a pan-nordic version of the show. 2011 saw their successful return to the variety stage with "Ylvis 4", premiering at the familiar Ole Bull Theater with the entire run sold out before opening night. That year, the brothers also launched their own comedy talkshow "I kveld med Ylvis" ("Tonight with Ylvis") on TVNorge, with sidekick Calle Hellevang-Larsen from comedy trio Raske Menn. The show was an instant success.
Upon being renewed for a second season, the brothers created their own production company, Concorde TV, in order to retain rights and creative control of their work. The second, equally successful series was broadcast in 2012, with David Batra replacing Hellevang-Larsen as the sidekick as Hellevang-Larsen was busy with Raske Menn. In the Fall of 2013, Hellevang-Larsen returned for the third series of "I kveld med Ylvis". Despite being plagued by technical difficulties throughout the broadcast, the first episode took the top ratings spot.
A number of comedy and parody music videos, either originally featured on "I kveld med Ylvis" or used to promote the show, have been released onto YouTube and other streaming media. "The Fox" and "Stonehenge" have also been released as singles. "The Fox", which was released on 3 September 2013 to promote the upcoming third series of "I kveld med Ylvis", went viral on YouTube and received 40 million views in its first two weeks. As of 12 December 2013, the video has over 280 million views.
Both Ylvis and TVNorge have commented that they are being flooded with offers for interviews, concerts, and major label record contracts from around the world since the release of "The Fox", and that they are quite surprised by all the fuss. Their first performance abroad was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the USA, where they appeared on September 20. They also made a surprise appearance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas the next day. On October 9, Jimmy Fallon brought them to his late night show to perform live. On October 11, they performed on The Today Show outside the studios. On 15 November 2013 they performed on BBC Children In Need where they were joined on stage byJedward, The Cheeky Girls and Bucks Fizz. On 22 November 2013 Ylvis attended Mnet Asian Music Awards for the first time, and received the International Favorite Artist.
On December 12, they appeared on Live! with Kelly and Michael to promote their new children's book titled "What Does the Fox Say?" and later to perform. The book "What Does the Fox Say?" debuted as no. 1 on the The New York Times Best Seller list.