From Iceland — “This is not a comedy podcast!“

“This is not a comedy podcast!“

“This is not a comedy podcast!“

Published December 19, 2022

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick

“I didn’t want to be like a normal person and just ask my comedian friends to hang out. I want the attention, so I decided I needed cameras and microphones,” David Í Dali says in the intro of his new ‘Serious Comedians Podcast’. He’s sitting in a little corner of the city library across from comedian Arnór Daði, who is already suppressing a smirk. “The point is not to be funny; if we make you laugh or smile it’s purely accidental.” It’s then that the pair, referring to Reykjavík as the “Las Vegas of the North,” succeed at cracking each other up.

Podcasting Couch

Originally from the Faroe Islands, David not only brings “kilk”—a traditionally Faroese mix of Coke and milk that he swears by—to the table, he also offers another perspective on Iceland’s comedy scene. “I want to talk to the comedians who I feel are underappreciated in the scene. We used to have a comedy club, but we don’t anymore, so it can be really difficult for comedians to [find] any way of connecting with people,” David says. After the pandemic claimed Reykjavík’s sole comedy club, Secret Cellar, the stand-up comedy scene in Iceland has become fragmented. “After Covid, a lot of comedians who used to feel at home in the Secret Cellar found themselves homeless, so we started open mics in some other places,” David explains. “It’s not quite the same but it’s still fun and everybody is kind of just waiting for somebody to start the next comedy club.”

Photo by Art Bicnick

Now that open-mic sessions are (thankfully) a thing again, interest in stand-up definitely seems to be growing, judging by the number of comedy programs in downtown Reykjavík. The ‘Serious Comedians Podcast’ aims to provide another piece of the puzzle that makes up this dynamic community. Outside InfluenceReflecting on how the comedy scene developed, David comments on how performers working in English broadened the appeal: “To me, English is the language of humour, French is the language of love, and Danish is the language of getting away with cultural genocide.” While the humour in Iceland might have become a little Americanised, according to David, the benefit is that tourists and travelling comedians can more easily partake, as well as people that have immigrated to Iceland and still want to do comedy. The result is lots of different voices from a variety of backgrounds—all appealing to a broad range of audiences.

Second Nature

Despite what the podcast title suggests, humour has a tendency to creep in, no matter how serious the comedians try to be. “I just can’t help myself”, David says, admitting that trying to ban comedy from a podcast about comedians talking to each other might be a flawed premise. Both Arnór Daði and Þórhallur Þórhallsson, the guest of the second episode, easily slip into a more comedic tone even as they discuss more serious topics. In fact, the recurring reprimand of “This is not a comedy podcast!” has all the makings of a future running gag. After all, as David points out, “We do it because we enjoy comedy and it’s something you can throw into everything that kind of makes everything better. It becomes like a tick—it’s second nature.” When David and his guests do talk about their individual paths, overcoming their doubts and anxieties, and finding their voices on stage, it’s still interesting to follow along. The natural sarcasm and anecdotes about accidental self-poisonings with Nesquik and moonshine (in Þórhallur’s case) are a bonus.

Photo by Art Bicnick

Open Mic

Now that in-person performances are possible again, stand-up shows might be on their way to becoming as frequent as karaoke. Events like the Underground Open-Mic at The Dubliner on Tuesdays allow comedians to practise their comedy, while The Mystery Mic at Gaukurinn presents pre-planned sets as part of the evening’s entertainment. Funnily enough, a recorded podcast in comparison can be a lot more chaotic, according to David.“I don’t know what I’m going to say, sometimes not even while I’m saying it. You don’t know what the other person will bring to the table at all, but I have access to a lot of great comedians. I’m completely confident thatit’s going to be a good show.”

You can check out David Í Dali’s ‘Serious Comedians Podcast’ on YouTube or follow him on Instagram (@davdavhaha).

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