Review: How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes

How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes is a one-man comedy show performed by Bjarni indexHaukur Þórsson. It was performed nightly over the summer at Harpa in Reykjavík, and appeared again between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Having read other blog-friend’s reviews, it was on my back-up list of things to do but not a must-see.

As it happens, we did go to see it and I was pleasantly surprised. It must have been nearly sold-out and there was a good representation of nationalities there. I only know this because there were many jokes about the people in the audience’s countries as well as the Icelandic stereotypes. Sometimes the jokes about the French or the Americans got more laughs than the Icelandic ones, presumably because most in the audience will be  more familiar with those stereotypes that are closer to home.

Þórsson’s delivery is quick and funny and despite the fact that he must have said these exact words every other night it didn’t feel stale. I was impressed with how funny a show he made a show that was just aimed at the tourist market. I had also seen an interview and some clips of the show from a travel programme that really didn’t do it justice.

I presume that this show will go on in some form again next summer and it must be a good earner. I would recommend going to see it – it’s a short early evening performance that won’t interfere with your whole night out and it’s got some genuinely funny moments and a nice video of Iceland too. If nothing else you can get a kick out listening to a room full of embarrassed tourists being forced to say “Eyjafjalljökull” over and over!

Perhaps the most memorable bit of the show was actually what happened afterwards. It has been, shall we say, a little windy during the day. As we were about to leave Harpa you could see that water was coming over the sea wall quite violently. For some reason I thought this was quite amusing, until I was outside and immediately clinging to a chain link fence and unable to move off it due to the wind gusts. My hat was nearly blown off my head which would have been annoying given Iceland is the only place I ever get to wear a hat!

Our destination was a 5 minute walk away under normal conditions but the combination of the wind and having to walk on ice around several road crossings made it take a good deal longer. Icelandic drivers will almost always stop and let you go even when there is no other traffic for miles around, which isn’t actually helpful when you are struggling to stay up and just want them gone and out of your way. Anyway, I am now very well acquainted with several signs and lamp posts in the area having clung on to them for dear life.

Here is a video of the wind that came to Iceland Airwaves in November to give you an idea of the fun you can have just getting around!


15 thoughts on “Review: How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes

  1. Thanks for the review and your story around. I have to see this show! Hopefully it matches next time when I’m in Reykjavik. And this storm is very huge. OMG! Not the right time to have a pleasant walk along the boardwalk. 😉

  2. Oh yay you saw the show! Glad you enjoyed it — as you may recall we also enjoyed the show last summer and much better weather afterward, too. 😛 The sea lashing at the bank and strong winds does NOT look fun at all. Especially knowing how powerful the sea is… but glad you stayed safe! x

  3. I went to see the show with my partner and two friends (one of whom was an Icelander). I thought the show was quite funny, but my Icelandic friend literally roared with laughter all the way through and he had seen the show earlier in the year as well! Glad to hear you had a couple of lamp posts to cling to in the wind. I got caught in the wind last year and was blown clean down a hill #onlyiniceland, haha.

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