Jón Gnarr

December 11, 2012

I am Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavík. AMA.

Anarchist, atheist and a clown (according to a comment on a blog site).

I have been mayor for 910 days and 50 minutes.

I have tweeted my verification (@Jon_Gnarr).

Hey Jón! You're awesome. Is there any chance of getting and english translation of your new book? Also, do you want to hang out sometime? I live in America, but I can catch a flight over to Iceland and we can watch The Wire or something.

P.S.: What is the best Punk Rock band of ALL TIME?

My books will be out in german next year, and hopefully in english soon after. If ever in Reykjavík please drop by. I'm usually in a meeting.

Crass is the best!

Have you ever seen a cow, chasing boots?


Hello How did you come up with the best party?

How could I not have come up with it?


I love it.


No I don't use drugs. My brain is too precious to me.


Happyterrified. I also had the deep sensation that something really important had happened.


Grettir-sized Egill any day.

Hvað er uppáhalds Tvíhöfða sketchinn þinn? En Fóstbræðra?

Indriði, og Instans.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?


Hello Mr. Gnarr!

Thanks for doing this AMA, you’re probably my favorite politician ever.

Over the summer, I got the chance to visit Iceland and I absolutely loved it. My boyfriend and I always talk about going to live in a Nordic country, but we’re limited by the fact that we only speak English. Are there people who immigrate to Iceland who don’t speak Icelandic? What do people think about them? Could you make me and my boyfriend honorary citizens? We’ll vote for you!

Everybody speaks english here. I cannot make you honorary citizens, sorry (protocol).

Who is your favourite character in The Wire?


Did you really think your party would win the election, or were you just trying to raise awareness? What advice do you have for those of us who are jaded with politics, but don't have the network/money to run for office (clearly I am in the united states)?

I knew we would win from the early beginning. How I knew, I don't know. I just kind of felt it. Be creative. Use youtube, facebook, twitter, the lot.

Sæll Jón.

Spilarðu nokkuð tölvuleiki? Ef ekki, hvað finnst þér um tölvuleikjaspil sem áhugamál?

Hi Jón.

Do you play any video games? If not, what is your opinion on video gaming as a hobby?

Já. Call of Duty, Half Life, Fruit Ninja in long meetings.

Who are your five favorite characters from the Wire? And what is your favorite season?

My favourite season would be the 4th. Omar, McNulty, Bunk, Lester Freamon and Snoop.

Hey, I want to be a politician myself in a few years(I´m 17 now and i guess i have to study first (=) and i just wanted to ask you;

-How did you became a politician?

-What did you do and what was necessary to do?(Talking about education and ways to become a politician)

-What advises could you give young boys and girls who want to become politicians or just make a lil change in the world?

Edit; Do you get much criticism for what you are doing/ the way you´re doing it?

I became a politician in an instant. I am good at communicating with people and I think that's my greatest asset. I genuinely like people. Exercise communication. Do talks. Conversation etc.

Hvernig finnst þér að vera besti borgarstjóri í heiminum?

Er ég það?

I am growing fond of Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men. What are some other Icelandic bands you would recommend?

Because it seems like there is some good music to be discovered from your lovely slice of green beauty on this Earth.

HAM, Kleópatra and Ghosdigital :)

Two questions:

  1. When you brush your teeth, do you put water on the toothbrush before or after you put toothpaste on?

  2. When you get dressed in the morning, do you put on your pants or socks first?


  1. Before.
  2. Differs.


Making my comedy, doing standup, maybe some writing. Trying to make a living :)

is it true that a mad man once ran after you with a hammer in a grocery store and everyone thought you were joking ?

edit: can we get a back story ?

Yes, that's true. It really was a sledgehammer.

So how is it to be mayor of Reykjavik as a result of people voting against the established order?

because it seems to me they didnt vote for you but more for something else. Does this effect your work in some way?

Btw that statement you put up on facebook about the internet, I loved it!

I think you are wrong. Many of my votes were protest votes, but the majority was favor votes.

do you like sigur ros? sorry if i'm being stereotypical

Yes I love Sigurrós. Flugufrelsarinn clings in my head every single day.

biggest life regret?

I wish I had been able to finish school and work as a neuroscientist today.

Do you want Iceland to join the European Union? Why?

I have no opinion and I think the importance of it is hugely overrated.

what are your concerns on global warming? Islands are generally more at risk to rising water levels

Global warming is a fact. But I think the effects on Iceland are mainly positive. The weather is improving every year.

Are you scared of your daughter? I mean, she is pretty, pretty strong.

EDIT: For those who don't know how - strong - she is - http://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/jon-gnarr-mayor-of-reykjavic-daughter-margret-edda-gnarr.jpg

No. She would never beat me up. I think.

Why do you think you have been accepted as an atypicial statesman while other politicians (especially American) are so afraid of stepping out of the social norm?

Probably because of the smallness of this country I live in. We are only 320.000 and practically everyone is friends on facebook.

What is you favorite Yule Lad?

I'm a feminist and they are all men. I would really like to see some yule gals. You know, equal rights and all that.

Can you convince Stanhope to tour Europe?

I don't know. I can try. But he's pretty uncontrollable. I have been trying to get Tig Notaro to come here. I would also like to see Eddie Izzard.

Well hello Mr. Mayor!

I've got a specific question for you:

there is a picture circulating around the internet that suggest that your daughter is in fact a professional body builder.

Is that the truth or not?

sorry for going personal on this, cheers.

That's true.

how many languages do you speak?

Barely one.

Is it true that you have a word for railway-sickness in Iceland without having one?

No I don't think so.

In Austin TX USA we also had Anarchists running for city council. Do you agree that you can still philosophically be an anarchist while working inside the system to try and improve things now?

Yes, I still consider myself to be an anarchist. Or libertarian socialist like Chomsky calls it. For me it's first and most a job. I am not an anarchist because it's the perfect political theory. I am an anarchist because there is no such thing as the perfect political theory. What has affected my anarchistic ideas most is the internet. And maybe there will rise a new idea of neo anarchism and I think and I hope that some sort of anarconomy will be the economic system of the future.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society has a song called Just The Best Party. I think you should give it a listen and consider using as a theme. They're a bunch of anarcho-circus-burlesque punks and would probably be pleased to hear from you (not that I dare speak for Jack).

Wow, thank you. I'll look into that.

What is the craziest thing you have done while being the Mayor of Reykjavík?

I don't think I have done any crazy things. But there was a lot of crazyness before.

What advice do you have for other world leaders?

Be yourself. Don't be evil. Show a little empathy.

Hi Jón! My Secret santa just sent me a bottle of Ópal. How would you recommend drinking it?

I wouldn't.

Is there anything you can do to help lower the cost of drinks in your bars? Oh, and the women there are BEAUTIFUL! I was in a bar with a former Miss Iceland and it seemed to be no big thing.

As I am not in government there is very little I can do about it.

Not a question, but i just wanted to say your country is absolutely gorgeous, flew over iceland towards USA two week ago , and my jaw just dropped when i looked out the windows, such beautiful landscapes!

Thank you.

Hello, what question have you never been asked, but wish you have?

There are so many.

Who is your favourite comedian?

Standup: Bill Hicks. Comedian: Karl Pilkington.

What is the one best thing about being a mayor, maybe some privilege?

Getting the chance to really have a saying. I try to use it wisely.

Your verification should feature your Reddit username.

Just posted a new tweet with my username @Jon_Gnarr

How cold is it in Reykjavik today?

It's quite warm, soft rain.

What drives you to be so awesome? Any way you can teach the guys in a Washington a thing or two? Also, how did you get so good at doing what you do?


Thanks. I guess I have a passion for life. I don't think the "guys in Washington" are going to waste their time listening to me.

You are the best goddamn mayor the city of Reykjavik has ever had! Can you tell our international audience a bit about the best party's campaign platform of anarcho-surrealism?

Well, it's mostly about nonviolent communication, humanistic values like humor and the opinion that politics are a part of our society and don't necessarily need to be boring. You can be funny and even silly and still be serious.

serious question here;

with increased globalization, do you fear the Icelandic culture/language may come under serious threat in the future? every year, more languages go extinct, and with such a small population, do you think Iceland (and other small European countries) will be able to "hold out" much longer?

No, I think with increased globalization Iceland and many other smaller European countries will increasingly become bilingual. In the end I think we will all be speaking english.

Then I would have to say Reykjavík.

What do you do for fun in your free time?

I really have no such thing as "free time". Sleep?

Alec Guinness or Ewan McGregor?

Alec Guinness.

You are one smart cookie. Is there any way you can send me a signed photograph, I'd like to frame it and put it on my wall.

Edit: Spelling

Send me an email at borgarstjori@reykjavik.is

Hi Jon! It's really great to see a real human being getting involved in politics for a change! I have a few questions:

1) What is your greatest wish for Reykjavik?

2) What do you think Iceland's greatest (best) export is?

3) Do you believe in Elves?

  1. I have a dream that one day Reykjavík can be an internationally declared military free zone and center for peace operations in the world. I have written President Obama a letter emphasizing this.
  2. Art.
  3. No, sorry. Do you?

Hi, I'm a 14 year old from Bucharest, Romania and you are my all-time hero. I wish there were more people like you in the world.

Here are my questions for you:

  1. Maybe.
  2. I am proud to be a human, and a citizen of this world.
  3. Guess they like me.
  4. Depends, maybe.
  5. No idea.

Which celebrity would you like to meet?

I have dined with kings, I have been offered wings, but I have never been too impressed. I like regular people.

Hey, What is your average day like? Thanks, you're awesome!

Meetings. Some more meetings. Speech. Concert.

Hullo! I'm an astronomer in the U.S. I see a lot of great pictures coming out of Iceland--I was wondering if you had any experience with or interest in the star-gazing outside of Reykjavik. If so, what is your favorite site that you have seen? If not, what is your favorite constellation?

Ta, thanks for your time :)

I have really no knowledge of the sky above me.

Where is Reykjavík?


What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in office? Like actually in your office.

Undressed after being in drag on Gay Pride. Taking a shower only to find out the shower didn't work. And sometimes I like to go out on the balcony when the pond is frozen and some children are playing on the ice and yell: "This is private property! Go away or I'm calling the police!"

Was reading some of your responses already and noticed your username. What's it mean and why did you choose that one?

It means the fly of peace. I use it often. It has a strange attachment to Flugufrelsarinn by Sigur Rós.

What would you say was your biggest accomplishment as mayor yet?

Surviving. And still having fun.

Do you even lift?

I'm a SPA man!

What kind of music are you into?

I have this weird condition, kind of hyper sensitivity syndrome, so I really can't listen to music. But I like spoken word. But not your average morning radio show. I like to listen to verbal information and stories.

Hi Jón! Do you like the work of Hugleikur Dagsson?

Yes, I love him. I'm actually his mother.

I'm visiting Reykjavík in early March, whats is one thing I should make sure to do?

Hang around and blend in.

My business essentials teacher doesn't believe that you did half the things you are known for... care to comment?

What can I say? It's true. And there's more.

Jón, many folks in the US think fondly of an 'outside' public figure (Jon Stewart, Colbert) seriously running for office. Some have run and won, like Al Franken, but their work in office is perceived as 'business as usual.' What advice would you have for these sorts of candidates/politicians to maintain their independence?

I don't know. Your system is much more brutal than ours. There is just so much a man can take.


I've been following Colorade and Washington and I think I'm for medical marijuana.

  1. If I get to visit Iceland, where should I absolutely make sure to visit?

  2. You get stuck on a desert island and can choose 1 Bjork album or 1 Sigur Ros album, what album do you choose?

  1. Reykjavík.
  2. Björk.

How have your interactions been with other politicians in Iceland/around the world?

I am kind of an alien in the political world. A little like ET of politics and I get treated accordingly. The younger the people, the more they seem to like me and understand me. The older they are, the weirder I become.

Is Bjork considered to be normal in your country?


Have you seen the old version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, the one with Pat Boone? I was wondering if Iceland is indeed a good place for subterranean exploring.

I know nothing about you except that you've dressed up as a Jedi, although that alone makes me want to move to your country.

Are politics that boring in your country? You need an election!

Instead of being an international phenomenon have you ever thought about focusing more and pressuring other politicians on domestic problems in Reykjavik, like poverty, housing problems, disabled rights, etc? It looks like you focus way to much on problems in other countries (like Russia, Faroe Islands, America and so on...)

This is absolutely not true. My whole workday revolves around these matters and I have repeatedly urged Icelandic authorities to address these issues. Human rights violations aren't that much of a problem in Iceland compared with other countries, and I think first and most that we have a lot to give in these matters. For example in LGBT rights.

What do you think of the effect "popular" people have on the political landscape?

Recent presidential elections had "friendly" faces from television, your election as a popular comedian, political opinions from athletes (certain ramblings from a handball hero).

Would you consider this a healthy transition for politics and democracy or another extreme in contrast/related to the "professional" politician?

Democracy should be about variety. I think it should be natural for all sorts of people to get involved in politics, tv-personalities, scientists, artists and disabled people. Just because you're famous doesn't necessarily mean you're fake.

What is the biggest responsibility you face as Mayor?

This is a complicated question. But the hardest for me has probably been financial matters. Deciding the amounts of money that go into different services.

How many hot dogs have you eaten in one sitting at that amazing hot dog stand in Reykjavik Center?

I think I had 5 over the course of one night when I was in Iceland for Airwaves (an awesome music festival). Had a great time at Airwaves and in your city! Also, a huge thank you for supporting LGBT rights.

I sometimes have two hotdogs in one bun. My record is four hotdogs, two buns.

How big are the Helgasons in Iceland?

Who are the Helgasons? Sounds like somebody from Fargo.

Hæ Jón Gnarr

You have done a lot in your past in entertainment (and I've enjoyed what I've seen, Fóstbræður was a big favorite). But are there any sketches that you've done, or gigs, that work against you now that you're in politics?

Do you regret any of the work you've done in the past?

No regrets.

What have you accomplished so far being a mayor? Do you think you improved things better than mayors before you? Also, you seem like an interesting dude to hang out with :)

What I have changed the most is probably implementing political stability in Reykjavík after many years of political chaos. It's a bit of an oxymoron when the anarchists bring stability, but what can you say? That's life.

Hi Jón. You are amazing. What do you think what your best achievement is as a potician? and besides as a humanbeing? e-hugs!

Staying true to myself and my convictions.

Do you have an Xbox live? If so can we be friends?

No sorry, Wii.

Halló minn kæri borgarstjóri :) The Best Party seems to be going to compete for the general Alþingi elections next spring: do you see your future on a larger scale, i.e., would you ever consider to run for Prime Minister? Also, what kind of political platform do you think would work best for the coming elections?

I have been thinking a lot about this. I actually think I would be a good prime minister, but of course it all depends on the platform.

Hvað er Marcellus Wallace að líta út?

Google translate?

Hi Mr. Gnarr. I am an American, and I always feel like there is a gap between the citizens and our politicians. My work brings me in close contact with senators and congressmen, and generally I speak to their staffers and rarely to the people I am trying to contact. Do you think politicians in your country operate the same way, with a definite buffer between people in positions of power and their constituents? What can be done to improve the peoples relationships with politicians?

A lot can be done but it's very complicated. We can start by introducing nonviolent communication between the people, the politicians, and not least the media. The media is often the most vicious dog in the yard. Watching politics on television is not encouraging young people to go into politics. Often politicians are just like gladiators in an arena. Sometimes they are assholes who deserve it, but most of the time they are not. Eliminate fear. Bring a little more love into politics.


Thank you.

Are you considering running for parliament next year? Why/why not?

Still thinking.

Hi Jón,

What is the scariest situation you have been in as mayor? Also, if you could be anything in the world other than mayor, what profession would you choose?


When I'm in meetings with aggressive and rude middle aged men and women who raise their voice and even yell at me. If I got to choose a profession I would like to be a neuroscientist. I am fascinated by the human brain. I think I can say I'm in love with it.

Do you have any plans on moving up the Icelandic political ladder?


What has been the best part of becoming the mayor of Reykjavík? Are there any things you can/can't do now?

Being able to have a real influence on things.

If I had a 12-hour layover in Reykjavik, what do you suggest I do to get the best experience of your city?

Go to a local swimming pool. The swimming pools in Reykjavík are a socialist achievement.

Did you belive for any second when running for the election you would get elected and have such a good fan following and backing? Thank you all the way from America!

No, that came as a surprise. A pleasant surprise I must say. I saw myself a little as Frodo from the Shire that nobody would notice.

Will you be my friend?


What made you want to be a comedian, if you don't mind me asking.

For me being a comedian is a lot like being gay. It's just the way I am. It's not a decision, it's just the way I am.

Do you think icelanders are wasteful when it comes to electricity because of the quite low costs for energy compared to other first world countries? GPD etc. (aka is energy to cheap because of your extraordinary spot on the globe)

Yes, in many ways we can be a bit spoiled and demanding.

jon, i made this account just so i could post this:

i was moved and entertained by your movie very much. i wish that in the movie, the names of the musical acts would have been displayed, making them easier to track down. i had such a rough time finding out who pascal pinon where. did you go to their release party the other day?

why do you hate denmark so much? i lived there 5 years and thought it was terrific!

also, i would love to have a signed photo to frame. absolutely love it.

I am not a producer of the documentary. I don't hate Denmark, I just don't see the point of learning Danish in school and made a lot of comedy about it.

Jón, no question but I think I can speak on behalf of most of us when I say :

Awesome job. Please, go on with everything you've been doing.

Thank you.

Has becoming a politician changed any of the things you did before? Is there anything you don't do now because you're in the public eye?

I can't say whatever I think like before.

Hello! What has been your most memorable moment since you became mayor? Also, most memorable moment before mayor?

My most memorable moments are very personal experiences I've had with people.

Mr. Gnarr, I've always wanted to visit Iceland, and Reykjavik in particular. 1) You have any tips for visitors who don't like touristy stuff? The hidden treasures the tour buses skip over that show the real heart & soul of your city? 2) When I get out there I'd like to buy you and your staff, etc. a beer. :)


  1. One of my favorite neighborhoods in Reykjavík is Breiðholt.
  2. Thank you. I like Ipa.

So what made you want to go into politics? Not really looking for anything specific, just a few general things. I personally think you are great.

I just wanted to try something new. It's hard to be a surfer in Iceland.

Hi Mr. Gnarr, A couple of questions:

I saw a documentary once about a road in Iceland that was rerouted in order to accomodate elves thought to be living in a rock. Do you believe in Elves/Pixies/Fairies? Would you consider the well-being of these creatures when it comes to policy regarding construction?

Where did you get that hot pink suit?

The pink suit was a gift from the National Cancer Association and I wear it on pink ribbon day.


I really didn't prepare at all. I freely admit that I had very little idea what I was getting myself into.

If you could give any sea animal the ability to fly, what would it be?


What do you think of the bankers that fucked your country in the ass?

Wow. Rude.

Hi Jon, I remember that one of your election policies was to install toll gates around the area where rich people live; are you still going to do that?

I love Iceland and cannot wait to return. Wish you well!

I'm still trying to.

What are some reasons I should visit Reykjavik?

Art, swimming pools, people, nature.

What's your favorite icelandic band or singer?


What kind of process would a Canadian under 30 have to take in order to work and live full time in your beautiful country?


First off, thanks for doing this AMA - Reddit is pretty sure you're the single most badass mayor on the planet.

I'm looking to visit Iceland, so a few questions:

1 - When is the best time of year to come visit Iceland? 2 - In Reykjavik - what are the three things any person MUST do?

  1. Best time would be July but I would like you to come here in November because we have so few tourists at that time :)
  2. You have to enjoy a whole day in one of our outdoor swimming pools.

Kæri Jón. Er hægt að setja loftræstingu í herbergi Nemendafélags Fjölbrautaskólans í Breiðholti? Eða jafnvel úthluta félaginu hentugri aðstöðu? Bestu kveðjur frá formanni nemendafélagsins :)

Og hver á að gera það?! Er það ég?!!

How do you suggest that an American with no ties to Icelandic culture whatsoever learn Icelandic or become involved in Icelandic affairs?

Through google.

Do you play EVE Online? Fellow CCP fanboys would like to know.

Sorry, no. I used to play ELITE when I was a teenager. It's a fascinating world and I hope one day I will be able to visit.

Idk about your country but is Marijuana legal? If it isn't do you want to make it legal?

Also, you are anarchist? How the hell does that go along with being a mayor? Like you are against yourself?

I contradict myself a lot.

Hi Jon!

Have you ever been to Canada? If so, where and what did you think? If not, would you like to come?

I'm a big fan of Kenny and Spenny. Canada is on the list.

Hæ Jón!

In what way have politics changed you?

I now have nerves of steel.

dude. how and why are you so awesome? legitimately, you do all the things we as regular people wish we could, what does it feel like to be you?

This is too much of an existential question.

There have been many satirical political groups in the past, but none seem to have made as much of an impact as yours has. Were you surprised the the Best Party gained so much support?

Not by the victory but more by the stamina.

world peace?

Yes please.

Do feel that people are trying to corrupt you after you went into politics?

No, I made it clear from the early beginning that it was not an option. Disappointed many, offended a few.

What is your favorite Halldór Laxness novel? I just started World Light after finishing Independent People and I'm truly in love.

Actually his articles and columns are my favorite. His thoughts on current social issues.

What do you think of the Pirate Party?

I admire the platform. The hive concept and liquid democracy. I follow it closely.

As a Star Wars fan, what is your opinion on Episode VII?

No comment.

[No question]

This has been so much fun but now I need to get going. Thank you for your interest and support. Hope this was of use and that you had fun too. I'm sorry I couldn't answer all your questions. Too many questions and too little time. Let's meet again here some other day. Peace!

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Jón Gnarr conducted on Reddit on 2012-12-11. The Reddit AMA can be found here.