Laughter Is In The Air Reykjavik, Iceland
It’s right before 9 p.m. on a Monday night this past summer, beautiful rays of light from the midnight sun is coming in from the tiny space between the black curtains inside a popular rock bar in the downtown section of Reykajavik. The scene is set to perform a open mic of stand up comedy in the capital of Iceland.
As we sit in a tiny booth by the bar there is an Australian stand up comedian, Jonathan Duffy, 31, speaking with Icelandic comic, Bylgja Babylons, 29, along with other stand up comedian. Most of the comics have their joke notebook’s on the tables. The comedy shows producer Gisli Johann, 26, walked by to see if Mr. Duffy, the MC was there and to get the show started.
In the back of the club, are home grown Icelandic and tourist have taken their seats. In the front has a spacious stage, with a beautiful red-curtain as the backdrop for this weekly stand up comedy show called “Come Talk Funny” A sign above the microphone says “Goldengang Comedy” for this night’s comics. In Iceland they don’t have specific comedy clubs so they use bars rooms. The comedians, Musicians and other performers come together in a group to bring forth the weekly comedy show.
Mr. Duffy takes the stage as the MC and decides to tell some funny jokes about the quirky culture of Iceland. He makes fun of the language, the cashless society, and tourist always asking “Where are the Northern Lights” He then hands the mic over to about 12 other comedians through the night for a two hour plus comedy show.
The show started off as a more traditional open mike but has now evolved into well groomed seasoned comics and also upcoming alike. The country population is under 350,000 people and they have a booming tourism with over 1 million visit per year, stand up comedy, or in Icleandic “Uppistand”, is at the full front as a must to do in Reykjavik in the capital city.
As just recently of last summer for the very first time there have been weekly stand up comedy shows in English, like the open mike at the rock bar Gaukurinn, live improvistation shows at the bar next door Hurra and other types of live entertainment at Lebowski Bar on the busy street on the main road that helped inspire Coen Brothers
“We’re sort of playing pretend,” Mr. Johann said. “We want to have an American comedy scene, but it doesn’t exist here, so we have to create it.”
During darker months, when tourism is slow, she and comedians like Saga Gardarsdottir tend to perform more in Icelandic, at corporate shows like holiday parties
“Iceland is so small that word of mouth means everything,” Ms. Gardarsdottir said, summing up the comedian’s path to success in Reykjavik.