The Icelandic Comedy Festival will take place in Reykjavík and parts of Western and Southern Iceland between November 6 and 23 with a mix of International and Icelandic comedians. Tiernan Douieb, a U.K.-based standup artist and opening act of the fest, talked to us about puffins, Nordic laughs and the land of the chiselled grizzle.
Is this your first trip to Iceland?
I first came here as a tourist during the time of ‘the thunder snow’ but I’ve never done a show here before. I loved it, though I never saw a puffin…
You know what I most distinctly remember though is that male model in those 66° NORTH advertisements. He was just, so Icelandic, more Icelandic than anything I saw in Iceland. You know that tall guy with the beard holding a fish up to his face?
I have a beard but I can’t grow a beard like that. I’m still trying.
You call yourself an ‘Honorary Beard Wearer.’ In whose honour are you wearing your beard?
Amongst others, definitely the man in the 66° NORTH adverts.
You’re opening the Comedy Festival. Is there a certain amount of pressure that goes with that?
Oh yeah, but it seems that in Nordic countries audiences are very friendly. In the U.K., you have hecklers in the audience and people who delight in giving you a hard time. In Norway, people really came to just enjoy the show. I’m hoping people come out, even if I get like, 600 or so people between the different shows in Iceland, that could still be a significant portion of your population.
What’s your impression or knowledge of Icelandic comedy? Will you tailor the act to suit the tastes of an Icelandic audience?
I don’t know a lot about Icelandic comedy and I don’t know if standup is just kind of gaining momentum there right now. There are a few things I’m worried about bringing up that I’ll probably bring up. There are cultural references I find hit home with different audiences so Björk will definitely be mentioned.
I love Icelandic music; I suppose that’s how I really became curious about Iceland and Icelandic culture.
Your performances often have a political bent. Will you take a jab at the political climate in Iceland?
Definitely. I really am a friendly comedian, but I do enjoy talking about politics.
In addition to ‘Honorary Beard Wearer,’ you call yourself a ‘Beverage Heretic.’ Alcohol prices here are insane, how will this affect your beverage heresy?
My beverage heresy actually started with the mixing of several different teabags in the same cup, but the real drink heresy is going on up there isn’t it? I just performed in Norway and I can’t imagine what it would have been like if the drinks hadn’t been complimentary. I suppose it would have been a cleanse for my body but luckily I didn’t have to.
I haven’t had a proper night out in Reykjavík yet, and I’ve heard tales of these outings, so I think I’ll try and do that. And I really would like to see a puffin so I think I’ll try to do that as well.
You also call yourself a speed calligrapher, what is this?
Oh I just thought it sounded ridiculous—speed calligraphy. You know, I think I’m beginning to realise that I can’t explain how I’ve explained myself.
And the show, can you give us a taste of something to expect?
The performance is a very interactive one. Anyone who’s in the audience, you came out—I’m going to get you to talk to me.
Lean more about the festival at http://midi.is/leit?