Comedy review: Ari Eldjarn: Pardon My Icelandic

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Edinburgh International Festival: After watching Ari Eldjarn you might find yourself saying things like: “Oh my goodness I’m being so Icelandic,” or “I wish I was more like a Danish person”.

Heroes@Monkey Barrel (Venue 515)


Making fun of geographical differences is no new thing in comedy – bringing out the characteristics of people of a neighbouring town, country or continent.

But Eldjarn uses the Nordic countries as a giant toybox, introducing us to mannerisms and prejudices we didn’t even know existed.

He shows us funny Norwegians, funny Finns and explains why absolutely everyone can’t stop laughing at people from the Faroe Islands.

It’s affectionate, silly and hilarious – a bit like watching an Asterix the Gaul cartoon brought to life.

Eldjarn, who is at the Fringe for the first time but who is fairly well known in Iceland, begins with a step-by-step guide to his native land.

He tells us how it feels to
live in such a tiny country, introduces us to the
Icelandic language, talks about volcanoes, the banking system and, of course, cannot resist talking about that extraordinary World Cup football match when Iceland beat England.

But it is not all Iceland-centric. Eldjarn also used to be an air steward, and has a whole load of tremendous airline material – including a fantastic impersonation of the way Scottish people behave on planes.

As the show progresses, Eldjarn gets stranger and more surreal.

He slips in and out of sound effects as easily as he does different languages and accents; a riff on the behaviour of his baby daughter turns into a ridiculous parody of Game of Thrones.

There can’t be many stand-ups at the Fringe throwing out punchlines in so many languages – but Eldjarn doesn’t lose his audience for a moment.

This modest-seeming man has some impressive comic tricks up his sleeves.

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 1:40pm.