The Mayor of Reykjavik - The Honorable Jon Gnarr - met us coming off the plane at arrivals in Iceland. He was with his elder son Frosti and they wore monkey masks and held a sign with our name.
I started a random correspondence with His Highness Jon Gnarr earlier in the year. He has a brilliant story. After the 2008 economic crash in Iceland, he decided to start his own political party - The Best Party - and ran for office, along with a handful of other rogues and artists. At the time he was a well known comedian there and star of the Night Shift series. Long story, the joke back-fired and he is now the mayor and his party holds 6 of the 15 seats on the city council.
There's a documentary titled "Gnarr" chronicling the entire run and it's hilarious and inspiring. I don't know when it's going to be released but look for it. As I mentioned in a previous update, we made arrangements to play Iceland's only maximum security prison and did just that hours after landing and a couple of breakfast cocktails, a shower and a beer on the hour-long drive. Thank fuck Frosti lets you smoke in his car. That might be why I fell in love with him but more on that later.
The Litla-Hraun prison only houses 80 prisoners, out in the middle of some endless, rolling lava-tundra and seems more like a summer camp for underprivileged teens. Some of the gates that were opened for us couldn't hold my dog Henry if she saw a rabbit on the other side.
Before the show we got a guided tour from an amicable young man who seemed like a volunteer museum docent - not until later did we find out that our guide was a prisoner himself - and got to hang out with a lot of the guys in one of the cell-blocks.
When I say cells and cell blocks, think dorm and dorm room. I just played the new Mayne Stage Theater in Chicago - great fucking venue - and put myself up at the closest place I could find called the Heart O' Chicago Motel. The half-dozen amenities listed on Expedia included "alarm clock," "microwave in lobby," and my favorite "windows that open." And they didn't really have an alarm clock. The cell-block at Litla-Hraun was the W Hotel in comparison. You walk in and there's a rec room of some sort with a small Asian kid on a couch playing video soccer on a Play-Station or some such gaming system and a full kitchen to the left where the inmates make their own food from scratch, just like Mama used to make when she did time in Iceland.
There's a metal culinary table in the middle of the kitchen where large knives stick magnetically to the edges. The knives are on cords like a bank pen so that if you want to stab someone, you have to wait until he's rolling out the fresh pasta. At the Heart O Chicago, the remote control was tethered to the same type of cord.
Everyone was cool as shit. I'm a shit-head and I'm talking to a prisoner and we were both so overly polite that you'd think we were new lovers meeting the in-laws for the first time. One guy saw me fumbling with a cigarette, looking for a door to go outside to smoke.
"You want to smoke? Come with me!" and we went into his cell - you can't smoke in the common area but you can smoke in your room. And all the doors to the dozen or so rooms on the wing were open. He showed me his stuff (I didn't notice if there was an alarm clock) and his books and told me how he as well as many others were working on university degrees online. A few more smokers came in and we shot the shit while Bingo made best friends of everyone.
Then I had to do the show. Keep in mind - the first sober show I'd done in years. A few drinks over breakfast and lunch might lose you your AA chip but that doesn't count as being drunk enough to perform. The last time I'd done a show sober that I can remember was at Ohio University in 03 or 04 where I had roughly 1/3 of a theater walk out on me. I was listed as a "Family Friendly" act on Parents weekend. If I've been sober for a show since, it's because I was on drugs.This show was in a small, half-court gymnasium with folding chairs - again better than a lot of the venues I choose to play - with I'd guess 30 or 40 inmates. His Noble Mr Jon Gnarr opened in Icelandic for 10 or 15 minutes while I waited in the wings wishing I'd actually put some thought into what the fuck I was going to say.
I'll say this... If you saw the show, you'd say it sucked shit and you'd be right. I say I sucked shit. But it didn't seem to bother anyone there but me. I figured I could just riff every easily-consumed dick joke I'd ever written but turns out I forgot how most of go, so there was a lot of me staring at my shoes in between bits or ending them mid-way when I couldn't remember the payoff. You know... that place I get to when I'd usually scream at the bar for large shots of vodka and Red Bull.
Didn't matter. They were really fucking fantastic and I can go back anytime to redeem myself. And I will.
Afterwards while Bingo was getting everyone's email addresses, they presented us with gift including t-shirts - the prison has their own t-shirt which is cool as fuck - and a large card hand-written in perfect calligraphy that says...
"Dear Doug Stanhope
Our initial idea of showing you our gratitude for you visiting us prisoners at Litla -Hraun was to give you a t-shirt with the inscription "I went to prison in Iceland and all they gave me was this lousy t-shirt which they gagged me with while f***ing me in the a**." This was deemed inappropriate so you get this nice card instead."
I'm having it framed.
I wish I'd had more time to hang out and find out more about the guys and how the whole system works. Prison on any level sucks shit but they seem to have a way to make it rehabilitative instead of just cruel and even more damaging to society at large. Next time maybe I'll stay a while, have some pasta and fuck the Asian kid with the X-Box.
We left and went back to Reykjavik to His Majesty Jon Gnarr's home for sushi with his lovely wife Joga and family, including his small red-headed child who - although he's only about 6 years old - I expect will see Litla-Hraun himself one day in Hannibal Lecter restraints. We ate and went through most of the vodka we'd brought though customs before we'd even taken a nap. I probably said the wrong thing more than once but hoped it would be chalked up to the very-slight language barrier. Thank goodness we could smoke in the house.
Now we go for our Official Meeting at the Hofdi House where 25 years previously Reagan and Gorbachev held their famous summit meeting in 1986.
"You know what this is?" asks the woman.
My favorite new band is Molotov Jukebox. Mishka Shubaly and the Mattoid will have to fight it out for silver and bronze because my new gold is Molotov Jukebox. Now we have to figure out how to get them to the States. You faggots figure that out. I'm not good at producer work. We met them on the radio in London. The lead singer Nat is one of the most stunning people we've ever met. She and the band are I guess what you'd call "bohemian" which means the probably don't shave or wash their genitals for months but to see them live is amazing. Strings and horns and accordion and fucking amazing.
Here's one - find more.
After my "Eddie" episode of "Louie" of FX, I've just sat back waiting for offers to pour in so I could happily refuse them. So far, there have been exactly zero offers. So now I'm a bit miffed and am changing my tune. I will court acting offers so long as they are the same character of Eddie like Richard Belzer did with Detective Munch - same character in 5 different shows. It doesn't matter to me what the show is so long as I can still be the suicidal, washed-up alcoholic I already played. Eddie on Breaking Bad. Eddie on Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Eddie on Two and a Half Men. Even better if I can do the exact same dialogue. I don't like to learn new things or try.
But it bothers me when nobody asks.
Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:11AM