How many stand up comedians does it take to reinstall faith into a countries political system?
This is Jón Gnarr…
He is the Mayor of Reykjavík, the capital City of Iceland.
‘Big deal’ you might say, ‘Iceland always has a mayor, why should I care?’
Yes, you’re right, since 1907 Reykjavík has always had a mayor. So why should you care about this one? Well, because prior to becoming Mayor in 2010, Jón Gnarr’s was a stand up comedian who had absolutely no experience of politics whatsoever. He even did not know who the incumbent mayor was when he decided to run, this made for a rather embarrassing introduction when he met her for the live debates.
Surely this campaign was going to be good for a few laughs, but was ultimately destined to fail. Or was it?
A comedian running for office sounds like the set up for a joke, but what about when when that comedian wins the election? People must have taken him seriously, and rightfully so. What was so unique and inspiring about his campaign and victory, is that he didn’t hide who he was. He didn’t suddenly learn to walk and talk like the identikit politician we see in parliament. He continued to be himself, a real person, with and real passion and real answers like “I don’t know the answer to that” and the people responded. He put his humour at the heart of his campaign and used it to engage the people of Iceland in politics after the disillusioning time they had at the end of the last decade and got himself in a position where he could help the people that he cares about.
His party, The Best Party, was filled with artists and musicians and they have been, for the last four years doing a great job in office, delivering on promises and engaging people in politics once again. I wonder if we will ever see the day where we had a similar movement here in the UK that would bring politics closer to the people through art and artists.
In the mean time, if you would like to hear the full story of Jón Gnarr’s road to the Mayorship, I will be directing a rehearsed reading of Sandy Nelson’s insightful and humorous stage version of the story- Hooray For All Kinds of Things at the Citizens Theatre Hooray next Thursday at 7.30pm. If you would like to attend, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org before 18th March.
Hooray For All Kinds of Things is Kindly Supported by the Playwright Studio Scotland and the Tom McGrath Trust