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Clockwork Angel
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Iceland Reports: The Funny Mayor

Jon Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik
That's right. Gnarr. 

According to some, Jon Gnarr, originally Jon Gunnar Kristinsson*, is the funniest man in Iceland. He's done stand ups, acted in movies, had a show on the radio, and written and starred in popular TV shows. I have to admit that it took me a while to understand his humor. In fact, I didn't like him one bit at first. His humor is crude, often offensive. But he grew on me, and I now "get" his Gnarrism.

It came as a surprise to the nation when he formed a political party in 2009 for the upcoming Reykjavik elections. Up until the day of the elections, people kept asking him if it was all a big joke. He had campaign promises such as to put a polar bear in the Icelandic Zoo (of farm animals), give stuff to "weaklings", and a drug-free parliament in 2020. 

Jon Gnarr at work

His election campaign was hilarious. He gathered his actor/singer friends, who also signed up for the party, and they wrote and sung lyrics to Tina Turner's Simply the Best. Why? Because his political party is called the Best Party. You can watch the video here.

The members of the Best Party are mostly artist: singers, actors, producers of various sorts. Augusta Eva Erlendsdottir who role-played Silvia Night in Greece 2006 during Eurovision has the 18th place. 

Silvia Night

What came as an even more surprise was that he was actually elected as mayor. Some days later, a stuffed polar bear that usually sits outside a shop in Reykjavik disappeared from it's place and was found in the Icelandic Zoo. I still don't know if Jon Gnarr and the store owner planned that, or if it was the act of someone else who thought it would be funny.

I sometimes can't help laughing when I hear his interviews on the radio. They try their best to ask him all sorts of complicated questions about various issues to try to throw him off. He readily admits that he has no idea where some of those issues stand. He says that there are other people in charge of those things. He also makes a lot of jokes to steer away from topics.

Is it bad to have a comedian in charge of the city? I don't think so. On the contrary, actually. He brightens the heavy atmosphere that suffocated the city after the financial crash. He lets the specialists handle the complex projects while he makes his people smile. Examples? Sure! This is how he showed up on Gay Pride:

The mayor on Gay Pride

He also addressed his coworkers like this in a video one day, where he suggested they celebrate that particular day yearly as the "'Good Day' Day":

The "Good Day" Day

The people of Reykjavik like him as their mayor. I think every town should have a copy. Specialists should take care of the real work (you know, people educated in that special area), mayors should be there for the people. I just hope he'll sign up as a candidate for the next parliament elections - we need him there!

I've had the pleasure of meeting Jon Gnarr. A few years back, he and his sons took taekwondo lessons with us for about a month. I even coached one of the training sessions (plus, I was the cashier - I'm always the cashier for some reason -.-). Jon Gnarr may be the funniest man in Iceland, but he is also the most serious man I've ever met.

Jon Gnarr

* If you say Gunnar really fast, it comes out as "Gnarr". I'm pretty confident that that's how he came up with his last name.


  1. Haha! He sounds fabulous! I have a soft spot in my heard for Icelandic people. I think just because I had a college prof (for phonology), Gunnar, who was from Iceland and he was one of the best profs ever. And boy did he ever love phonology. But his excitement was infectious!

    Sounds like your Mayor Gnarr's the same way. :)

  2. Yeah, I was cheering for him the whole time. The other guys were so serious and business-like. They so didn't expect him to win. Part of the reason he won is that people are so fed up with the system after the crash that he was such a fresh breath of air, and he sort of made fun of the whole thing.

    But he's really taking this thing seriously - in his own comic way ;)

  3. Wow, he actually got elected! That's hilarious! Over in the US, several comedians have attempted similar things (even running for president) but they didn't make it past the first ballot, as far as I know.

    I hope he does a world of good for the community -- I suspect that making people smile and relating to them by not being an official 'politician', he can work wonders for community spirit and togetherness!

  4. He can indeed. Some of the other politicians don't "get" him though. A French reporter asked him what he looked most frequently at on the internet and he answered with a laugh "porn". The people who understand the Gnarrism understand the joke in it - the sticks in the mud don't. That particular stick in the mud says he's "normalizing pron", and joke or not, he's setting a bad example for the public.

    That may be, but I still think she's overreacting.

    He's probably going to have to face a lot of these kinds of things.

  5. I've been hanging out for your Iceland-titbits! He sounds like a crack-up. Love his polar bear election campaign!!! :)

  6. Three polar bears arrived on chunks of ice from either Greenland or the North Pole last year (or earlier this year). They were all shot (like they always are) because they're a threat to people and are starving when they arrive on shore - aka hungry. One of them was not far away from a little girl!

    The foreign press went berserk. We were supposed to save the bears and transport them back to Greenland with a helicopter. All these expensive measures in the middle of a financial catastrophe.

    Don't get me wrong, I HATE seeing those pictures of proud men with their guns standing with one foot on a bloody polar bear. I wish all of the bears could be saved, but if it's a life or death situation between a bear and a child, I'll opt for the child.

    Anyway, Gnarr got this idea as a result of the media circus. The manager of the Zoo said he would be happy to take in a bear, next time one arrives on shore.

    And if someone is outraged because of the bear-killing, a committee has been formed to decided what actions take next time a bear shipwrecks ashore, in hope that the bear can be saved.