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Jón Gnarr

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Jón Gnarr
20th Mayor of Reykjavík
In office
15 June 2010 – 16 June 2014
Preceded byHanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir
Succeeded byDagur B. Eggertsson
Personal details
Jón Gunnar Kristinsson

(1967-01-02) 2 January 1967 (age 57)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political partySocial Democratic Alliance (2017–2024[citation needed])
Other political
SpouseJóhanna "Jóga" Jóhannsdóttir

Jón Gnarr (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈjouːn ˈknar̥ː]; born Jón Gunnar Kristinsson[a] on 2 January 1967) is an Icelandic actor, comedian, and politician who served as the Mayor of Reykjavík from 2010 to 2014.[5]

Gnarr was a well-known comedian and actor starting in the 1990s, including teaming with Sigurjón Kjartansson as the duo Tvíhöfði on radio and television. In 2009, he formed the Best Party, a political party that began as political satire but quickly turned into a real political player due to its electoral successes, which were perceived to be a reaction to the 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis.[6]

Early years[edit]

Gnarr was misdiagnosed with severe intellectual disability as a child and was treated between the ages of five and seven at the children's psychiatry ward at the State Hospital at Dalbraut, Reykjavík. He has dyslexia and had learning difficulties. Jón Gnarr recounts these experiences in his book The Indian, an autobiographical account of his childhood.

Gnarr was known as Jónsi Punk as a teenager and played bass in a punk band called Nefrennsli ("Runny Nose").[7] While attending a number of high schools, he didn't complete the university entrance exam, Stúdentspróf.[8] As a young man, he held jobs with car maker Volvo and drove a taxi in Reykjavík.[9] During the 1980s, he and his future wife, Jóhanna "Jóga"[10] Jóhannsdóttir, became acquainted with the members of the Reykjavík-based alternative rock band the Sugarcubes, including Björk Guðmundsdóttir and Einar Örn Benediktsson. Björk remained a close friend to Jóhanna, writing the song "Jóga" from her 1997 album Homogenic about her.[11]


Jón Gnarr has an MFA degree in performing arts from the Iceland University of the Arts. His graduation work was his own performance of the ancient Icelandic poem Völuspá from the Poetic Edda[12]

Performance career[edit]

In 1994, Gnarr teamed up with Sigurjón Kjartansson to form the radio duo Tvíhöfði. In 1997, he joined TV station Stöð 2 where he wrote and starred in several seasons of the Icelandic comedy show Fóstbræður. His best known movies are The Icelandic Dream and A Man like Me. His stand-up comedy show Ég var einu sinni nörd (I Used To Be a Nerd) is autobiographical. In 2004 he wrote, starred and produced a short film, The Man on the Back.

He worked as a creative writer and actor at the Icelandic advertising agency EnnEmm, producing several popular TV ads. He played Georg Bjarnfreðarson on the television series Næturvaktin (Night Shift), Dagvaktin (Day Shift) and Fangavaktin (Prison Shift). He was also a co-writer in the series, which introduced a number of new actors. In 2009, he starred in the feature film Bjarnfreðarson, which endeared him even further to the Icelandic public. Gnarr is a member of Félag íslenskra leikara (Icelandic Actors Guild) and Félag leikskálda og handritshöfunda (Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild).

Entry into politics[edit]

In late 2009, Gnarr founded the Best Party with a number of other people who had no background in politics, including Einar. The Best Party, which is a satirical political party that parodies Icelandic politics and aims to make the life of the citizens more fun,[13] managed a plurality in the 2010 municipal elections in Reykjavík,[14][15] with the party gaining six out of 15 seats on the Reykjavík City Council (34.7 percent of the vote). Einar, who was second on the party's list behind Gnarr, won one of the seats on the city council.[citation needed]

Gnarr ended up defeating the centre-right Independence Party-led municipal government of Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, which came as "a shock" to Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Gnarr's victory is widely seen as a backlash against establishment politicians in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis, i.e. 2008 banking collapse.[16]

His political platform included promises of "free towels in all swimming pools, a polar bear for the Reykjavík zoo, all kinds of things for weaklings, Disneyland in the Vatnsmýri area, a 'drug-free' Althing by 2020, sustainable transparency, tollbooths on the border with Seltjarnarnes, to do away with all debt, free access to Hljómskálagarðurinn (orchestral rotunda park)."[17]

Both before and after being elected, Gnarr announced that he would not go in for a coalition government with anyone that had not watched the HBO series The Wire.[18] He is an avid watcher of the series, and stated his favourite character is Omar.[19] Ultimately, his Best Party entered into a coalition with the social-democratic Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin) as its junior partner to govern Reykjavík.

As Reykjavík mayor[edit]

Gnarr in drag at the head of the Gay pride march through downtown Reykjavík on 7 August 2010

After Gnarr became mayor of Reykjavík, it was jokingly proposed that the city be nicknamed Gnarrenburg, the title of an earlier television talk show featuring Gnarr.[20][21] As mayor, he appeared at the 2010 Gay Pride parade as a drag queen,[22][23] posted a video holiday greeting wearing a Darth Vader mask and a Santa Claus cap,[24] and suggested a merger with neighboring municipality Kópavogur.[25] Gnarr protested about the Chinese government's treatment of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, before the announcement of Liu's award for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.[26] He has also stated that he believes the importance of the European Union is highly over-rated.[27] His government also included the granting of long-awaited permission for the construction of Iceland's first purpose-built mosque.[28]

On 30 October 2013, Gnarr announced that he would not seek a second term in office when his first term expired in June 2014.[29]

After leaving office[edit]

Since leaving office, Gnarr has campaigned for Iceland to abandon its laws regarding traditional Icelandic names, viewing it as discriminatory, e.g. that only some family names are allowed and Gnarr not an approved one.[30] Gnarr also authored a book entitled Gnarr!: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World.[31] In January 2015 Gnarr joined the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University as their first writer in residence.[32][33]

After the incumbent President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, announced on 1 January 2016 that he would not run in the upcoming presidential election, it was speculated that Gnarr would put forward his candidacy.[34] On 15 January 2016, Gnarr announced he would not be running for office "for the time being", but that he could "think of doing it later", and that he was more interested in working more in Icelandic television.[35]

Prior to the 2017 parliamentary election, Gnarr joined the Social Democratic Alliance as the SDA's campaign manager.[36]

On 2 April 2024 he announced that he would run in the 2024 Icelandic presidential election.[37] He was later confirmed as a candidate.

Personal life and family[edit]

Jón Gnarr is married to Jóhanna Jóhannsdóttir, a close friend of the singer Björk.[38] He has five children, one of whom is Margret Gnarr, a fitness competitor.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • Edda Award
    • 2010 Bjarnfreðarson (Mr Bjarnfredarson) Best Actor of the Year (Winner)
    • 2010 Fangavaktin (The Prisoners Shift) Best Actor of the Year (Winner)
    • 2010 Bjarnfreðarson (Mr Bjarnfredarson) Best Film of the Year (Winner)
    • 2010 Bjarnfreðarson (Mr Bjarnfredarson) Screenplay of the Year (Winner)
    • 2010 Fangavaktin (The Prisoners Shift) TV Drama/Comedy of the Year (Winner)
    • 2008 Dagvaktin (The Day Shift) Screenplay of the Year (Nomination)
    • 2008 Dagvaktin (The Day Shift) TV Drama/Comedy of the Year (Winner)
    • 2007 Næturvaktin (The Night Shift) TV Drama/Comedy of the Year (Winner)
    • 2004 Með mann á bakinu (The Man on the Back) Screenplay of the Year (Winner)
    • 2001 Fóstbræður (Foster Brothers) Best Actor of the Year (Winner)
    • 2000 Íslenski draumurinn (The Icelandic Dream) Supporting Actor of the Year (Nomination)
  • 2010 – Visir.is, Person of the Year Award
  • 2013 – Honorary member of Samtökin '78, The National Queer Organization of Iceland
  • 2013 – Siðmennt, Humanist of the Year Award
  • 2014 – LennonOno Grant for Peace Award

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Icelandic naming customs, Jón would still be referred to by his given name; however, he also decided to remove the patronymic Kristinsson from his name, which he was legally allowed in 2015 by the Icelandic Naming Committee. Jón legally changed his middle name Gunnar in 2005 to the way his mother pronounced it when he was a boy.[1][2][3] Gnarr was only recognized as a surname by the courts in 2018.[4]


  1. ^ "Icelandic Government Finally Recognises Gnarr As Gnarr". The Reykjavík Grapevine. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  2. ^ Patrick Cox (2 July 2014). "No longer mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr can restart his career as a comedian, not that ever stopped". the world in words. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  3. ^ Larissa Kyzer (26 November 2013). "Jón Gnarr Criticizes "Stupid Law Against Creativity"". The Reykjavik Grapevine. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Allusionist 87. Name v. Law". 19 October 2018.
  5. ^ Magnússon, Haukur S. (17 June 2014). "Jón Gnarr Is No Longer Mayor of Reykjavík". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  6. ^ Constantin Seibt (24 June 2014). "More punk, less hell!". Tages-Anzeiger. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  7. ^ Nefrennsli Myspace
  8. ^ "Jón Gnarr, Reykjavík city biodata" (in Icelandic). Rvk.is. Archived from the original on 24 October 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  9. ^ "The Reykjavik Grapevine Features/What Are You Voting For, Reykjavík?" (in Icelandic). Grapevine.is. 25 May 2010. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  10. ^ MacKay, Emily (5 October 2017). Björk's Homogenic. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781501322730.
  11. ^ bjork.com GH&FT special: Jóga Archived 3 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine; accessed 24 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Jón Gnarr". 9 August 2021.
  13. ^ Steinberg, Joseph (21 July 2014). "5 Life Lessons From The 'World's Coolest Mayor". Forbes.
  14. ^ "Icelandic comedian to become Reykjavik's mayor". The Daily Telegraph. London. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Sending frá Jóni Gnarr" [A dispatch from Jón Gnarr] (in Icelandic). 20 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Satiric political party wins council poll in Iceland", Indo-Asian News Service, 30 May 2010; accessed 24 January 2012.
  17. ^ McGrane, Sally (25 June 2010). "Icelander's Campaign Is a Joke, Until He's Elected". The New York Times.
  18. ^ https://grapevine.is/mag/feature/2010/05/25/feature-what-are-you-voting-for-reykjavik/; "The Reykjavik Grapevine Features/He Really Did It!". Grapevine.is. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  19. ^ "leroideschoux comments on I am Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavík. AMA". Reddit.com. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Lífið í Gnarrenburg" [Life in Gnarrenburg]. Mbl.is (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 7 November 2002. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  21. ^ "Polit-Clown wird Bürgermeister und Reykjavik Gnarrenburg" [Political clown becomes mayor and Reykjavik Gnarrenburg] (in German). Islaendisch.blog.de. 4 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Reykjavík Mayor Jon Gnarr leads Gay Pride IceNews". Icenews.is. 7 August 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Reykjavik's mayor Jon Gnarr wears drag at Gay Pride". Citizenside. 7 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
  24. ^ "Jólakveðja Jóns Gnarr – Í líki Darth Vader" [Christmas Greeting of Jon Gnarr – in the guise of Darth Vader]. Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 25 December 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016.
  25. ^ "Jón Gnarr: Eiga rétt á að fara í Smáralind án þess að fara út fyrir borgina" [Jón Gnarr: Have a right to go to Smáralind (shopping mall in Kópavogur) without leaving the city limit]. Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 17 October 2010. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013.
  26. ^ "Jón Gnarr gagnrýnir Kínverja" [Jón Gnarr criticizes the Chinese] (in Icelandic). Mbl.is. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  27. ^ "I am Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavík. AMA". Reddit.com. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  28. ^ Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir, 'To a Mosque on a Magic Carpet', Iceland Review, 52.1 (2014), 64--68.
  29. ^ Iceland Travel Guide (30 October 2013). "Jón Gnarr: "I am not a politician, I am a comedian"". Goiceland.is. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  30. ^ Fontaine, Paul (8 July 2014). "Jón Gnarr: "In Jesus' Name, Answer Me!"". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  31. ^ Jón Gnarr, 1967- (12 May 2015). Gnarr : how I became the mayor of a large city in Iceland and changed the world. Brooklyn. ISBN 978-1-61219-437-0. OCLC 879400311.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ CENHS website; accessed 28 June 2015.
  33. ^ Molly Gore (14 August 2015). "An Anarchist Icelander Walks into a Texas University . . ". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  34. ^ [1]; accessed 15 January 2016.
  35. ^ "Jón Gnarr býður sig ekki fram til forseta". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 15 January 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  36. ^ Jón Gnarr [@Jon_Gnarr] (7 October 2017). "yesterday I started working as campaign manager for the @Samfylkingin social democratic party of Iceland. very excited!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  37. ^ Stefánsson, Jón Þór (4 February 2024). "Jón Gnarr ætlar á Bessastaði". Vísir (in Icelandic). Retrieved 14 May 2024.
  38. ^ Yang, Jennifer (23 June 2014). "Did politics ruin 'the world's coolest mayor'?". The Star. Retrieved 23 June 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Mayor of Reykjavík
Succeeded by