I can be serious when it's needed, but it's not needed now, not with you.". He got re-elected in 2014, but Jón Gnarr didn’t want to hear about power anymore and got out of politics. The message of the film is simple and positive. OK, I get it. If people are never funny, then they are just worried, they are depressed. I've known you for 27 years and I've never known you for anything else than peace. The war in Northern Ireland is one of the longest-running and most intensive guerril­la insurgencies in the history of modern warfare. Iceland used to be a Danish colony, he explains, and so the ruling class had "fancy Danish last names", which they were allowed to keep, whereas the common people have to take their last name from their father's first name (occasionally their mother's), with a -sson or -dottir suffix. If you don’t have a sense of humour, you’ve got problems. He pauses: "I honestly have to say…" another pause for effect "…that I don't care." It didn't make a difference then that we were in Nato. June 26, 2010. Jón Gnarr Kristinsson was the mayor of Reykjavik from 2010 to 2014. From Focus World, the hilarious true story of the comedian who ran for mayor of Iceland’s largest city. And, although he became a punk at the age of 13, he has always abhorred violence. Our advert appeared in the classified section of a greasy rag: ‘The Best Party is looking for men and women who want to change things.’ We were almost overwhelmed by the number of replies.”, “What else are you going to talk about with your coalition partners – socialism?”, “I’ve set myself the goal of making Reykjavik the ‘City of Peace’. Comedian and Mayor Jon Gnarr Runs Iceland’s Best Party, Loves The Wire by Joe Coscarelli. Gnarr imitates himself as a boy, puzzled and scared. Bit by bit, 'Raising Kane' becomes an excuse to lower the boom on Orson Welles so as to resurrect the reputation of the late Herman J. Mankiewicz.”, “When the iron door was opened, sounds peculiar to jails and prisons poured into my ears — the screams, the metallic clanging, officers’ keys clinking. Now I can never use it again.'" They are confusing depression with seriousness. He had used one of his father's pencils to do a painting. He has no patience either with some of the main tenets of the Social Democrats, and opposes Iceland's membership of Nato – "It's ridiculous, we don't have armed forces, why should we be part of it? Watch ‘The Wire’ ... Have you heard the one about Jon Gnarr, the comedian who saved Iceland. You can also choose to be emailed when someone replies to your comment. ", "Oh. JÓN GNARR was born in 1967 in Reykjavík. It wouldn't change anything. He imagined, and however quietistic he became he never lost that utopian identification. The party that started as a joke, led by a "clown", restored the city's finances after the collapse of Iceland's banks, and also left a less tangible legacy in that, Gnarr claims, politicians in Iceland are now more polite and more respectful towards each other. As you can imagine, he didn’t have a background in the Icelandic political establishment. He said, 'It was one of my favourite pencils.' It’s high time we got involved because we want to have fun.”, “Anarchy and peace, that’s what I long for. Pic's exposure will be limited, due to helmer Gaukur Ulfarsson's seat-of-the-pants style and the idiosyncratic nature of Icelandic humor ("The odds of you being in Reykjavik are not great," Gnarr says. But Gnarr is not just anti-establishment. He carried this pain within him." Our journalists will try to respond by joining the threads when they can to create a true meeting of independent Premium. Reading Gnarr! He is childishly delighted that I thought the no smoking or drinking rule might be serious. Anarchy is the only way to a classless society, a mutually supportive society that respects the freedom of the individual. "I – uh, well, we, because I don't like to take all the credit – completely changed the financial situation of the city. I don't care whether we join the EU or not. Jón Gnarr Kristinsson was the mayor of Reykjavik from 2010 to 2014 without any previous political experience. As an unteachable child, written off as a nobody, he is on the side of the underdog. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. With a campaign that included mandatory viewings of HBO’s “The Wire” for all politicians, free towels at public pools, and a “drug-free parliament by 2020,” Gnarr soon found himself with unexpected political momentum, and realized that against all odds – he just might win. The … We need scientists, punks, artists, ordinary people who think slowly rather than quickly; shy people, stutterers, the overweight and the disabled. The existing Open Comments threads will continue to exist for those who do not subscribe to Independent Premium. Beyond them, a network of supporters 3000 miles away in the United States. What’s wrong? His book, Gnarr! Found your own political party or join one you respect and lend a hand. A ‘drug-free Parliament by 2020. He would say: "Come on, I've raised five children, I've buried both my parents, I wasn't laughing about that. "I wanted to blow up the world with creativity and happiness," Jon Gnarr said over black coffee and a ham and cheese pre-made Starbucks sandwich. He is proud that his 27-year-old son texted him recently to congratulate him on winning the Lennon-Ono Grant for Peace award this year. Britain sent all its military ships, and Nato said, 'Oh, we're busy.' “Girl group records were based in the relationship of a young girl and an older man (white, until Berry Gordy) who put her on a pedestal and held her in thrall; out of that relationship came some of the most urgent and intense rock and roll ever made.”, “The notion that John Gotti — or any single mob figure — was some sort of omnipotent New York mafioso is ludicrous. He held my hand and he cried. The paper turns to a political scientist to explain how this could happen, but any semi-astute reader already knows: “It’s a protest vote.”. That might make the Best Party's success hard to repeat in bigger places. More than a third of Icelanders live in the capital, so he was almost "mayor of Iceland", as Björk called him. He says: "Most political parties, except perhaps for fascists, have nice, intelligent, good people in them. "I said I was sorry and he cried. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium. Rúv was first to report the story. His friends have jobs and the Wire is being watched by the opposition with great interest. Jon Gnarr, Reykjavik Mayor, Joke Candidate ... (despite Mr. Gnarr’s suspicion that party leaders had assigned an underling to watch “The Wire” and take notes). Are you sure you want to delete this comment? And Björk is, of course, a friend of Gnarr's wife, Joga. Elections in Reykjavik, Iceland resulted with 34.7% of … But this must be peaceful: violence is the dark side of human coexistence.”, “To save democracy, politics must attract a wider range of people. Another factor might be that Reykjavik is so small – a city the size of Gloucester in a country with the same population, about 325,000, as Coventry. What is surprising is that he stayed popular after the unenviable task of balancing the city's books. The word 'Godfather' had a nice, Brando-­esque ring, but the title itself is a fraud”. Should Iceland be a member of the European Union, then (the country is in accession talks)? Above all, young people.”, “It’s pretty simple – you need a little imagination and some courage, and the rest follows. "Then Nato will help us." I mention that he uses the word "responsibility" a lot in his book. A celebrity with jokes is a breath of fresh air, and he also sends a message, from the Best Party’s punk rock party members to its serious moral standings. He was an uneducated, anarchic comedian fed up with politicians. But what starts a joke suddenly becomes serious when people start to believe - against all odds - that he might just be the best man for the job. Read "Gnarr How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World" by Jon Gnarr available from Rakuten Kobo. On one side, the forces of the Brit­ish union. is an entertaining reflection on life, politics, and human nature by an original and creative individual…It’s a tribute to, and manifesto for, participatory democracy in the 21st century. What form did his father's psychological abuse take, I ask. Mr. Gnarr, born in Reykjavik as Jon Gunnar Kristinsson to a policeman and a kitchen worker, was not a model child. Hann sá um útvarpsþáttinn Tvíhöfða á X-inu , Radíó , Radíó X og Rás 2 ásamt Sigurjóni Kjartansyni . Financial experts agree it was a miracle. Please continue to respect all commenters and create constructive debates. The Best Party has now disbanded. In his closing speech Gnarr said: 'All you need is love, love is all you need', Gnarr says: 'I'm funny, I try to be funny, except when it's impossible. Could the 'clown' who saved Reykjavik now provide the rest of the world with a manifesto for a better life? That's me, defender of representative democracy as we know it, well told. The second British Icelandic cod war of the 1970s, that is, which drew this response from Gnarr: "Well, we were in Nato at the time and they didn't do anything to help us. We begin by talking about celebrated TV show The Wire, which has for some reason become a sort of calling card for his campaign [as you constant readers might remember, Jón told us in the last issue that he would only consider working with politicians that agreed that The Wire was the best thing to happen to television]. He was allowed to change his middle name from Gunnar to how his mother used to pronounce it, but rails against the unfairness of the Icelandic naming system. He compares the Best Party to a social worker intervening in a family: "You try not to take sides with family members." His campaign—in which he promised to build a Disneyland in the city and refused to talk to his opponents if they hadn't watched "The Wire"—was filmed, from start to finish, by Gaukur Úlfarsson for his feature documentary Gnarr . Literally. He made me feel that I was the cause of his pain. In 2014, at the end of Gnarr’s mayoral term, the Best Party will be dissolved. Gnarr was a semi … You don’t need special training or any special skills. Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. In Gnarr’s acceptance speech, he explained: “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party,” he said, “because it is the best party. He recalls the Leftist riots in Reykjavik as the financial crisis closed in and says that although he sympathised with the rioters, he sympathised with the riot police, too. It is as vital as emotional intelligence but it’s often derided. Reykjavik could so easily have gone the way of Detroit – because of the financial crisis and because of Reykjavik Energy, which had huge debts, and all the debts were in foreign currencies.". On the other, the Provisional Irish Republican Army. It depends on every individual. But when you hold out hope, people get real disappointed if you can’t deliver.”, “Pauline Kael drifts away from a half-hearted analysis of 'Kane' to the most lively gossip imaginable about the alleged birth-pangs and labor-pains of the script. He also admits with a laugh that it helped that he wasn't around for too long. His acting work includes the movies The Icelandic Dream and A Man Like Me and the television series The Night Shift, which aired on BBC4. The kids turned out OK. The slogans were devised by advertising agencies, the usual blah-blah-blah about home, garden, and family. Still, it’s playful and Gnarr introduced himself on the political scene thusly: But perhaps most importantly, the man loves good American television: With his party having won 6 of the City Council’s 15 seats, Mr. Gnarr needed a coalition partner, but ruled out any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of “The Wire.”, This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 26, 2010, Kid Kingpin: The Rise and Fall of a Drug Dealer, “John Lennon held out hope. Description - Gnarr by Jon Gnarr It all started when J n Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country's political system. Another gale of Viking laughter. So it wouldn't make any difference. Jon Gnarr was at the forefront of that bloodless revolution and this book is his story of how that happened. Gnarr refuses to accept my assumptions. Newly elected Iceland politician Jon Gnarr has vowed that he won't join up with any party whose members haven't watched all five seasons of the acclaimed drama The Wire.. His is an extraordinary story, and what he calls his "intervention" in politics should be studied by anyone far beyond Iceland who shares the feeling that there is something wrong with modern democracy. Completely. Due to the sheer scale of this comment community, we are not able to give each post the same level of attention, but we have preserved this area in the interests of open debate. His son said: "Congratulations, you deserve it Dad. But be prepared to invest a bit of time and make sacrifices.”, “During the Reykjavik elections, the main parties took out glossy adverts in the main newspapers. Against this backdrop rose an unlikely political hero: Jón Gnarr, the comedian who ran for mayor of Reykjavík as a joke… and won. '” On the strength of these policies and many more seemingly hilarious non sequiturs — and after a catastrophic financial collapse — the Best Party, headed by comedian Jon Gnarr, is taking charge. What bugs you? We would never work with a party like that.”, Previously, he promised a group of kindergartners he would build a Disneyland at the airport. He formed the Best Party in 2009 and became the mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. Now that he has stood down, he is no longer a threat to established politicians, so they can afford to say nice things about him. Jon Gnarr really won and is now the Mayor of Reykjavik. So, to be one step ahead, you’ll need humour.”, “You don’t need to be a politician to have the right to participate in political life. That is something social democrats care about. Gnarr had no background in politics…While rival politicians ruthlessly went for him…voters were by and large charmed.” — the Guardian’s G2 magazine (UK) “ Gnarr! It should be required reading for the 99% of Americans who got screwed by the economic crisis of 2008 and is still trying to recover. : How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World, says his Best Party started as a comedy sketch, but it has some quite strict rules, including no smoking or drinking, and some terribly earnest reflections on "responsibility". It was pretty much a one-man band. Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines. Free towels at public swimming pools. "Just because I'm funny doesn't mean you can't be serious," the 47-year-old replies. Craig Ferguson, host of the popular talk show The Late Show with Craig Ferguson, hosted his very last show on Friday, with actor Jon Hamm among his guests. "I said I was very sorry. "He looked me straight in the eyes and said, 'You've ruined my pencil. Gnarr had no background in politics…While rival politicians ruthlessly went for him…voters were by and large charmed.” —the Guardian’s G2 magazine (UK) “ Gnarr! Jón Gnarr is an Icelandic actor, comedian, and politician who served as the Mayor of Reykjavík from 2010 to 2014. With Iceland falling on hard times, Jon Gnarr decided to invent a new political party - the subtly named "Best Party" - and run for office in order to mock the squabbling left and right. A deadpan humorist with equal doses of Jon Stewart understatement and the is-he-punking-us irreverence of an Andy Kaufman sketch, Gnarr essentially charmed … He was born in hardship in a turf house in 1918. Gnarr, whose first name is pronounced Yon and the rest of whose name is a complex subject to which we shall return, is a comedian who set up a political party, the aforementioned Best Party, which promised to break its promises and led to Gnarr's election as mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city. Jón Gnarr was born in 1967 in Reykjavík. We’re so focused on success that we’ve forgotten how to enjoy things. He served as the mayor for four years, until this summer, then wrote his book, and is now working out what to do next. ©2017 Village Voice, LLC. ", The humour, the subversion and the silliness are part of Gnarr's appeal. A few days later, his father confronted him with the paint-covered pencil. Þar áður stjórnaði hann öðrum útvarpsþætti, Heimsenda á Rás 2 árið 1994 . A referendum on the subject has recently been postponed because the government feared losing it. Gnarr's 'intervention' in politics should be studied by anyone far beyond Iceland who shares the feeling that there is something wrong with modern democracy, Word wise: Gnarr talks to the media after being sworn in as the new mayor of Reykjavik on 15 June 2010. He formed the Best Party in 2009 and became the mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. Gnarr suggested that in the process of negotiating a coalition—aside from continuing to insist Eggertsson get caught up on The Wire—the Best Party’s priorities were focused on making the city “more human, more welcoming, and more modern” while the social democrats prioritized labour and education policy, which the Best Party endorsed in principle as well. He was very disappointed. At 11, he decided school was useless … He refuses to use the name derived from his father, Kristinsson, but is not allowed to disown it formally. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Meeting him in person, though, I realise that the Icelandic sense of humour is as dry as subzero ice. His official campaign slogan (or as official as anything got for the Best Party) was: “Hooray for … ", Gnarr says: "I have tried to not pass my things on to my children." Start your Independent Premium subscription today. But the reason the Best Party sustained a successful full term of government in Reykjavik is that it was a tool for his essential seriousness of purpose. He starred in the series The NightShift , which aired on BBC 4 in 2011. is an entertaining reflection on life, politics, and human nature by an original and creative individual…It’s a tribute to, and manifesto for, participatory democracy in the 21st century. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. Possibly, this is because he is more serious than other clowns who have gone into politics – Boris Johnson in London, Beppe Grillo in Italy and the Pirate Party in Berlin come to mind. This was something for which I was not prepared. Gnarr swore he would not form a coalition government with anyone who hadn’t seen all five seasons of the classic HBO series, The Wire. "The translator called me. During his mandate, he cross-dressed for the gay pride parades of the Icelandic capital and forced the coalition party to watch The Wire. Craig and Jon were discussing Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, when the former asked the actor whether he had ever met Jón Gnarr, the former mayor of Reykjavík. Some of the women noticed me and smiled warmly or threw up their fists in gestures of solidarity”. The most insightful comments on all subjects will be published daily in dedicated articles. After Heath, Wilson, Thatcher, Major, Maastricht, Lisbon, Ukip, David Cameron and Douglas Carswell, here was a political leader in a country outside the EU saying that none of it mattered. “A polar bear display for the zoo. Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? You can see why he was popular. ", At this point it is possible that I might have mentioned the war. With Iceland falling on hard times, Jon Gnarr decided to invent a new political party - the subtly named "Best Party" - and run for office in order to mock the squabbling left and right. He formed the Best Party in2009 and became mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. I was terrified of this man. His father was a police officer, and he has an instinctive impatience with those who simply want to tear things down. We are indirectly part of the EU through the EEA [European Economic Area] and Schengen [the passport-free agreement]. He had to put up electricity prices and merge schools in places with falling pupil numbers. "As a child, I suffered from domestic violence for years, in the form of psychological abuse from my father, and I would never agree to inflict it on others," he writes in his book. Jón was known as Jónsi Punk as a t. Jón Gnarr Kristinsson is an Icelandic actor, comedian, and politician who became the Mayor of Iceland's capital city Reykjavík on … It was a "surprise party, not a political party", says Gnarr. That’s what’s happened with politics. From Focus World, the hilarious true story of the comedian who ran for mayor of Iceland's largest city. When the going gets weird, the weird turn political in "Gnarr," a sociopolitical-comedy docu about comic Jon Gnarr's run for mayor of Reykjavik in the wake of the Icelandic economic melt-down. I wasn't sure if I had understood Jon Gnarr's sense of humour. I just don't care.". ", But what if you were threatened by someone less benign than us British? Gnarr recounts an episode from when he was 12 as if it were yesterday. JÓN GNARR was born in 1967 in Reykjavík. Its promises? When I ask him about his legacy, he stops to correct himself. Surely the voters need to know what sort of direction you might go in, and aren't Left/Right labels useful for that? During his mandate he attended gay pride parades cross-dressed, and he forced the coalition party to watch The Wire. She was translating the 10 values of the Best Party and she said, 'The 10 values are actually 12.'" And won. "No.". All of this and more is true, and in the newspaper’s Saturday Profile, which is jam packed with hilarious anecdotes about Gnarr’s rise to power. "I really don't care. And, as we are saying goodbye, he says something lightly that is deadly serious. The whole ideology of a united Europe. So he took them on. He founded the ‘Best Party’ in late 2009. and won the city council election six months later. ", He recounts how, as the opinion polls showed the Best Party gaining support in the election campaign, he had to deal with journalists who accused him of being a fool who didn't take things seriously. He had to work for his food from the age of six. Gnarr promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire. In other words, people are fed up with the status quo in a very serious way. He had had a similar problem with the German translation of his book. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. His mother persuaded him to apologise again. ", Of course his party was bound to be seen as part of the Left, albeit its anarchic, libertarian wing, and that is where the successor party has ended up. So it was that, in 2010, Gnarr, a standup comic, stood as mayor of Reykjavik. Elections in Reykjavik, Iceland resulted with 34.7% of the vote going to a group called the Best Party — really — founded only in December. "He was not a bad person. Prison Memoirs: The New York Women’s House of Detention. The deeper the shit you are in the more you should laugh, because … Many of its members – anyone could call themselves a member – have set up a more conventional party called Bright Future, which has gone into coalition with the Social Democrats, Iceland's main left-wing party, in the city's government. You can’t be working for a peace camp in the Middle East during the day and then in the evening have an argument with your family over the phone.”, “What is hip and cool? The Best Party’s platform included bringing a polar bear to the zoo, free towels at all public pools, a drug-free parliament within ten years, and a promise to break all of its promises. He’s the mayor of 320,000 people and, according to the New York Times, he’s the man. Roughly the opposite of stupid and narrow-minded.”. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more. So shouldn't you be a member of it? 'Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World' is published by Melville House, priced £16.99, “Without a robust sense of humour, I’d probably be in an asylum right now. Word wise: Gnarr talks to the media after being sworn in … He didn't speak to me for many days." Jón Gnarr á að baki farsælan feril sem leikari, listamaður og grínisti. was a breath of fresh air from other political memoirs. But there are many things about which Gnarr does care, deeply and seriously. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country's leadership. "I'm funny, I try to be funny, except when it's impossible. If people are never funny, then they are just worried, they are depressed. I was so nervous that I started laughing. We’ve neglected democracy, we haven’t been paying attention and we’ve let ourselves get taken for a ride.”, “As soon as something is no longer fun, it’s worthless, pointless and sick. Of course, in typical Jón fashion, he required the leader of the Social Democrats to be familiar with his favorite television show, The Wire, so they would have something to talk about other than politics. His acting work includes the movies The Icelandic Dream and A Man Like Me and the television series The Night Shift, which aired on BBC4.In 2014, at the end of Gnarr’s mayoral term, the Best Party will be dissolved. Gnarr acts out the conversation: "Yeah, yeah, there are supposed to be 12. I don't share that. "We are occupying a space that might otherwise be occupied by fascists.". It's value number three and number nine.". Yet his collaborative style meant that most people accepted that hard decisions were needed. But did you know that 'Honesty' is there twice? They are confusing depression with seriousness', An island view: In a post-political life, Gnarr's political views are still forthright, including rejecting membership of Nato and ambivalence towards EU membership, Have you heard the one about Jon Gnarr, the comedian who saved Iceland, You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully, Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable, Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties, We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification. All rights reserved. House of Detention except when it 's impossible coalition government, although he ruled out partners who not. Food from the age of 13, he is on the subject has recently been because... 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'Godfather ' had a nice, intelligent, good people in them recently been postponed because the government feared it.