Gaukurinn and the Golden Gang
Home of weird Icelandic comedy and karaoke nights.
Comedy night at Gaukurinn is the kind of event that makes you giggle but you don't know why. You will ask yourself what in the world you just witnessed... In the very best kind of way.
Once a week in downtown Reykjavik there is an open-mic comedy night by GoldenGang Comedy with beer, a stage and board games. It's a lively place and local watering-hole, full of semi-permanent students and curious tourists. Icelanders are here in their natural habitat.
Tuesday nights offer a glimpse into the remarkably ego-free crowd that a small country (where most people are related) can attract. There is a clear policy of clapping and cheering for what people have to offer... Giving it a good honest go is all it takes to get a cheer and a pat on the back. Even when a comedian ends their jokes with 'yeah...it's funnier in Icelandic'.
This is a sharp contrast to the live music, theatre and arts scene I've experienced in Sydney. 'Scene' being the key word. Sure there are open-mic events and comedy here, but it's devoid of the 'give it a go' attitude. In Sydney, no one will turn up and cheer you on if you are terrible at what you do, regardless of the effort you put in. You'll get a frigid golf clap at best.
Seeing a group of people with a healthy amount of body art sitting in a room on a cold Monday night, getting drunk and encouraging each and every act was refreshing. Icelanders have to brave some crappy conditions to get to the pub, I guess that helps. Once you walk through the sideways 40km/h snow you might as well get half-cut and be nice to people in the same warm dry room as you.
There's an example of an Icelandic comic (not at Gaukurinn) that pretty much follows the style below...
Events like this are what make people fall in love with the weirdness and loveliness of low-context communities like the Icelandic comedy scene. If you are in Reykjavik on a Monday night, don't miss it and DO NOT bring anyone who is easily offended.
We should all take a lesson from our Viking friends... It's really important to be positive and offer that encouragement to people who are giving it a go. We all know that, but how often do we actually get out to an amateur open-mic and scream praise at someone who really didn't expect it? It's a win/win. Even in a big, warm and sunny city like Sydney or LA.
I'm just upset that I had to get to 28 years old and travel to the other side of the world to figure it out. Strange niche events are awesome.