THE ICELANDIC COMEDY SCENE:- a Conversation - The Reykjavik Grapevine

THE ICELANDIC COMEDY SCENE:- a Conversation

THE ICELANDIC COMEDY SCENE:- a Conversation

Published November 5, 2004

E: Good afternoon Eyvindur.
M: Hello myself.
E: How long have I been doing stand-up comedy?
M: Professionally for about four months, but I’ve been doing a few bits here and there for years.
E: What’s the Icelandic comedy cirquit like?
M: Well… There isn’t one. That’s the only real answer to that question. There’s no real “comedy circuit”, and in fact it’s not very easy at all for young comedians to get started, because there are no clubs that book comedians.
E: So what can aspiring comedians do?
M: There are a few comedy clubs run by individuals, not by establishments. I’m in charge of one of them and my good friend (and also a very funny guy) Snorri Hergill is in charge of another. This format is a good one because there’s no financial risk involved for us, and obviously not for the establishment. We simply arrange for comedians to perform at some club that will lend us the room for the night. The drawback is that this obviously doesn’t pay very well, but it does have the advantage of getting young comics that are just starting out some exposure. This is how I got started, and I’m starting to make a modest amount of money out of comedy, so it should work for others as well.
E: Why is the comedy market so limited that the comics have to start their own clubs to hire themselves?
M: That’s a good question Eyvindur…
E: Thanks.
M:…I think the simplest answer I can give you is that stand-up comedy is a really young artform in Iceland. When Eddie Izzard visited Iceland in 1995, stand-up was pretty much unknown to the majority of people here. There was no shortage of comedians, but they mostly did revue stuff, quite often in pairs. For a single person to go up on stage and just talk and make people laugh was all but unheard of. So I think Icelanders are still growing accustomed to the art of stand-up comedy.
E: Have any Icelandic comics made their way to the international comedy scene?
M: No, not yet, but I know Snorri Hergill has performed a bit in London and is hopefully going there again next year. So we never know.
E: One last question: Is there any way for our international readers to take in the Icelandic comedy scene, albeit limited?
M: I’m glad I asked me that, because my comedy club is in fact hosting an evening of Icelandic stand-up comedians performing in English on Thursday, November 11th at Leikhúskjallarinn below the National Theatre, along with Snorri Hergill and Jón Haukdal. You can see more information on the web at http://www.uppistand.net.
E: Thanks for the chat.
M: Me too…

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