York Underwood is a stand up comedian, originally from Canada. He’s performed all over Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, and, of course, Iceland. He got his start touring with comedian Dez Reed in Saskatchewan and Lars Callieou in Alberta. He was also one of the youngest comedians to perform for the NATO troops in Germany, Kosovo, and the UK. He is the show manager and house comedian for The Secret Cellar, Iceland’s first and last comedy club.
York Underwood, 33, Standup Comedian
How would you define Iceland in your words? Iceland is a small nordic country in the North Atlantic ocean with its own unique language and culture. It’s a lot like living in an airport. You know all the places to go, but people from all over the world keep showing up.
What do you like about Iceland?
My friends and family. I have a great group of friends. It’s such an easy place to live and simple. It’s easy to travel from. Also, I love the seasons and the weather. They are really inspiring. It gets so dark and cold you will start working on your projects just to fight off the existential despair.
One thing you would like to change in Iceland?
What do you do to stay current on new trends? Describe two or three of the most interesting industry trends for comedians.
I’m not sure if comedians really define current trends. The media attempts to be the cultural curators, or “taste-makers”, if you want to throw up in your mouth.
How would you describe your comedy style? Funny.
How are jokes different in Iceland compared to other countries? A funny incident while working on the stage?
The jokes are the same as anywhere. I perform in English so that really connects it to English comedy everywhere. The main difference between Iceland and anywhere else is the comments after the show. In most places a few people will come up and tell you “you’re funny” or “good show.” In Iceland, most people come up and say “ I could do that.” Iceland has a big amateur culture. Everyone thinks they can do everything. This is because it's easy to get allowed to do a lot of stuff for very little pay. As soon as you want a decent salary, the people upstairs quit being impressed. Everyone thinks they’re a star until the end of the month comes around.
What if you are feeling sad, how do you make sure you still give good performance on the stage? By performing. I’m not a sad person in general, but I’ve gone on stage feeling sad, happy, angry...whatever. Human stuff. But when I step into the spotlight. It’s showtime.
What do you do if someone is heckling you on the stage from the crowd?
I threaten his entire identity and understanding of his place in the world. Sometimes I ignore him. If it’s a drunk lady, I usually applaud her courage and try to make space for her voice in the show. I’m worried that drunk white women at bars aren’t paid enough attention.
One golden tip for a person starting as a comedian in Iceland.
Get on stage as much as possible and always be writing.
What comes in your mind where you hear these words? One or two words only.:
Best restaurant: Icelandic Street Food
Best bar: The Secret Cellar
Comedian, you like to follow: Arnor Dadi
Nightlife in Iceland: blessing and a curse
Icelandic food to try: hotdogs
Pressure: force per unit area
Next holiday: London
Dream destination: My girlfriend
Icelandic language: beautiful and funny
Iceland future: slightly warmer
Your favorite joke: "Hey, maybe I'll give you a call sometime. Your number still 911? Aaaalrighty then." --Jim Carrey