From Iceland — Calling All The Muses

Calling All The Muses

Published March 27, 2024

Calling All The Muses
Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick/The Reykjavík Grapevine

Crafting comedy and crossing creative streams with Sindri Sparkle

A poet, a painter and a drag queen walk onto the stage. Sounds like a set-up to an artistic joke until I fix the grammatical error: the poet, painter and drag queen walks onto the stage ready to bring some laughs, make you question yourself and probably learn something new! For this edition of my curious column searching for the quirkiest and quaintest of interests and the people behind them, I have sought out Reykjavík royalty, stand-up comedian and artist-of-all-trades Sindri Freyr Bjarnason — or as they translate it “Sparkle Sex-God Son of Bear. It doesn’t get much queerer than that”.

My initial idea was to talk to someone who does stand-up regularly. Seems like a fun thing to get up to. But having seen some of Sindri Sparkle’s shows, it quickly became obvious that there are a number of layers to their performances — like a sparkly onion — combining different ideas and even mediums to talk about their experiences and make the audience laugh.

Art Bicnick/The Reykjavík Grapevine

“I’m a multi-disciplinary artist,” Sindri tells me. “I’m mostly doing stand-up and just generally performing right now, but I’m also a graphic designer. I studied painting, I write poetry, I do a lot of shit. I think that different pieces of art require different art forms. So, if I have something to say that doesn’t work in one, I’ll just move it over to a different thing. I’ve also noticed that writing for comedy and writing for poetry is pretty connected in my brain. So when I write poetry it’s kind of like notations for music and I can write the timing so I can get the punchlines.”

I’m mostly doing stand-up and just generally performing right now, but I’m also a graphic designer, I studied painting, I write poetry — I do a lot of shit.

When asked about how they got into stand-up in the first place, Sindri recalls initially observing comedians from afar in their natural habitats, be that in TV specials or on comedy podcasts like “Icetralia”, before delving a little bit more into the wild. “I started going to the live shows and I just listened to a lot of comedy. I listened to them but never really realized that I could do it. It wasn’t even something I really thought about. I just enjoyed stand-up and then later I was studying painting, listening to a lot of storytelling podcasts and realized that I could mix the two mediums. I started doing these paintings on curtains, telling stories and then unfurling the curtain and basically have these huge murals that you could look at, illustrating my story as I was going. Which got me into performing and eventually I just kind of accidentally started doing stand-up when I realized that I could.”

After consistently going to open-mics for months to practice material and taking on gigs at bachelorette parties to educate people on safe BDSM practices, Sindri presented their first comedy show, “You Have Probably Already Seen Me Naked,” at the Reykjavík Fringe Festival in 2021. The title is in reference to a Nova phone company ad (“Allir Úr!”) that aimed to highlightt body positivity (and sell Apple Watches) by dressing the models in nothing more but the techy wrist accessories. Sindri was one such model. Eventually Sindri started getting booked for other shows like Coney Iceland, Strip Lab and Apocalypstick, getting to inhabit different areas, mixing their stand-up work with more “traditional” drag elements like lip-syncing and performing parody songs. Sometimes they even educate the audience on some BDSM basics, stripping away some of the taboo and making it less difficult to talk about. For this year’s Fringe Festival they’re even tying it all together and whipping up “an educational BDSM musical.” You know, for some safe words on the topic and hopefully a bonding experience.

“Each medium has a different thing that it’s good for,” Sindri emphasizes again. “So a song will get stuck in your head and especially since I’m doing parody songs you already know the lyrics about to come but then subvert it and get your own ideas in. A lot of my songs are about how it’s okay to be you! And putting up visual images, like in the slideshows, really helps you kind of center yourself in that and you can create more of a punchline by showing what you’re talking about — putting everything together is kind of the trick. Not just doing one thing ever.”

Keep up with the On The Fringes series here.

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