If there’s stereotypes for the audience members at a comedy show, like for people on the dating scene, I would be the one who plays hard to get. No matter how cringe the situation is, you better go out of your way to win me over and to make me laugh—even though I secretly want you to succeed. With that said, what went down at Improv Iceland’s show was truly something else.
Spiraling outward from a single word given by the audience, Improv Iceland acts out their own associations in the form of scenes and monologues, following the well-known “Harold” improv structure. The audience have no idea what will happen—and neither do the performers. Sounds quite impressive, huh? Then get this: Asked to supply the word of the night, the audience lands on “mortician.” You know, the profession that’s like any aftercare service… Only that their customer segment is, to put it frankly, dead.
What’s cracking? The audience
“Mortician. That’s not such a happy word, is it?” one of the performers states more than asks. I’m quite mortified myself, thinking how on earth these peeps on stage will turn a funeral profession into comedy, without being too, eh, stiff. But before I know it, the show is taking the piss out of relationships, driving skills, the N1 chain, masculinity and football culture. My companion is laughing so hard she snorts, and I find myself gasping for air as well. Even the performers laugh with us, and it might be what makes the show so easy-breezy, fun and unforced.
Improv Iceland is a huge society, and twenty of their members currently do shows. “We’ve some theatre people and actors, but most people in the group are from all over,” Vala Kristín Eiríksdóttir, one of the performers explains, after the show. “One of my favourite improvisers works at a kindergarten, for example, so we are from all different types of backgrounds. But we know each other really well and everyone gets along with everyone. It’s all about the love.”
Improv Iceland’s next English speaking shows take place July 27, August 3 and August 10 at Tjarnarbíó.