Oh, you thought just because there’s not much international travel right now that Reykjavík Fringe Festival would be cancelled? WRONG! It’s back and wackier than ever, with a week-long showcase featuring the best of local performers along with a selection of special live-streamed acts from abroad.
At the Grapevine, we are unapologetic Fringe-addicts, so we’re happy to now present a series of interviews with some of our favourite performers of this year. Here, we sat down with Ingimar Bjarni, who will be turning his years of guiding experience into a 60-minute stage tour entitled “Guide To Guiding” that’ll take you into the mysterious world of the mass travel industry. Will you embark on a glacier hike? Into a volcano? On an air-conditioned bus? Only Ingimar knows.
First off: “Guide To Guiding.” Tell me about it! How did the show come about? What was the spark that popped the idea into your head? What can the audience expect at the show?
It happened in two parts. I was working on a collection of true short stories for my degree, and those were all based on funny experiences I had living in London. While writing that I was working full time as a tour guide and there were a whole bunch of moments where that writer part of my brain pinged and said: “That could be a story.” I started playing around with the idea of a short story collection about those little adventures, wrote drafts of a couple of them but didn’t find an angle to make me really excited about doing it.
Then at the Fringe last year, as I was leaving the closing party, someone said to me: “You are doing a show next year, right?” It was one of those rare moments where you just get a massive buzz, things click full on and I knew that those stories would be the basis of show in 2020, which then got the name “Guide to Guiding.”
As for what to expect: Fun! The main character Ríkarður is taking his guests on a tour of tourism, mixing some of the fun weirdness that happens, with funny jokes taken way to far, true stories and musings on traveling.
I don’t want you to spoil anything that’s in the show, but what is something that people wouldn’t expect that guides often have to deal with? What is the most unexpected part of the profession?
I think anyone, especially someone who has done any kind of service job would recognise a lot of the stuff that guides deal with. It might really surprise folk (especially if they have dealt with the dry humour that is so common with guides) how much guides care about guests having a good experience.
What was unexpected for me was the kind of stuff that became commonplace. Especially when working in the highlands where ridiculous weather, walking through an ice tunnel, trying to keep ridiculous trucks going in blistering cold, or seeing people get engaged (which is always fun) becomes sort of pedestrian.
Ok, we must know. Should one trust TripAdvisor reviews?
Trust the 3-4 star reviews, people will often put amazing amount of effort into those and you can usually see when they are fair. Reading 1-star reviews is an endless source of laughs for me, some of them are just amazing.
And we also must ask (because we are a travel magazine) can you give us one of your best expert recommendations for tourists in Iceland? A must-see spot? A hidden gem?
I can’t do just one. The Westfjords are an amazingly under-traveled, some of the most scenic and otherworldly roads in the country . The second would be Hafnarfjörður—it’s such a great place to relax (and my recommending it has nothing to do with it being my hometown).
Are you planning to continue guiding? Or is this your farewell to the profession?
Well the show is certainly not intended as any kind of a farewell. But with everything going on there aren’t that many gigs for guides at the moment and I eat a lot, so who knows.
Read more Reykjavík Fringe coverage here.
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