Jono Duffy at a Crossroads in Life: “There’s a lot of things I’m questioning”

On July 8th & 11th at Tjarnarbíó come and laugh at Jono Duffy’s existential crisis in what might very well be his last comedy show (according to his currently depressed self): ‘I’m Tired’. Be reassured: that wouldn’t make you a terrible human being. In fact ‘you would be the best person in the world’, Jono says. So buy a ticket. Buy it now. He demands it. Here’s why you might want to give in.

Are you okay Jono?
“Hahaha. You don’t have to worry, I’m ok I guess. But if you look at the things going on in the world right now, I think being a little bit not ok is pretty much the state everyone is in right now.”

Why are you tired?
“Well there’s a lot to unpack there, but ultimately if we’re talking about the show – it’s been a long year so far and there’s a lot of things I’m questioning. Probably doesn’t sound that hilarious but I promise you I haven’t lost my sense of humour.”

“It’s been a long year so far and there’s a lot of things I’m questioning.”

Are you really contemplating quitting comedy?
“Yes and no. I mean I love comedy, I love making people laugh but there’s other things that come along with being a comedian and self producing that are exhausting. If I think back to when I first started doing stand up, the one thing I wish I had known back then is that 90 percent of your time when you’re a comedian is spent just getting people to let you do your job. You spend years getting people to let you have a five minutes spot when you’re starting out. Then when you have learned and developed an audience you then have to spend your time booking a venue, marketing the crap out of yourself and pushing it all on Facebook to try and get people to come and see you perform. So by the time the show is over you’ve only been able to spend a fraction of that time doing the thing you love.

So where I’m at right now is this place where I still love making people laugh, but I’m not in love with the hustle that comes along with it. So the honest answer is that I don’t want to stop making people laugh, but I want a break from the self marketing stuff. Every time someone sees a post from me trying to get people to book a ticket, I can guarantee you that I’m way more sick of me than you are.

I got to a point at the start of this year where I felt like I needed to think about if I have the energy to keep doing it. I’ve been working at this for a long time and I really started to contemplate If I want to do it anymore.”

Has covid-19 taken a toll on you?
“Totally. When Covid hit, I lost half a year’s worth of work in a single day. I also lost all my side hustle work, so basically I started this year having had the best year of my career (2019) and now I’m looking at unemployment and constant uncertainty like so many other people here in Iceland. It’s a very strange place to be in, but I think all we can do is be kind to each other and try to enjoy even the smallest things that might give us a smile.”

So your show is about you having a mental breakdown: should we still expect a good laugh out of it?
Of course you should. It’s not a heart wrenching piece of avant guard art. It’s a comedy show. I would say it’s an existential crisis, told in the style of a jolly rant.”

Can you tell us more about the content of the show?
“Well in a nutshell, we start with me explaining how I had no material for a show, take a trip down memory lane stopping of at some of the strangest parts of my childhood, add a bunch of stuff about being gay and some bodily fluids and then hopefully by the end I will know if I want to do this anymore.”

Am I a terrible human being if I buy a ticket?
“No you would be the best person in the world. You would be an even better person if you bought a ticket ahead of time. I’ve been performing in Iceland for five years now and it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing it, you never get used to the stress of seeing ticket sales move at a glacial pace.
People tend to wait till the day to buy tickets here and I have made fun of that onstage many times but if I could say anything to try to get audiences to change that it would be this.

When you’re getting ready to do a new comedy show, all you want to do is work on the show. Some people love marketing, but I hate it. I would rather do my tax return than market a show. So when you check on the numbers of tickets sold, often they’re really low right up till an hour before the show begins and that’s terrifying.

“It’s a very strange place to be in, but I think all we can do is be kind to each other and try to enjoy even the smallest things that might give us a smile.”

And another thing I will add to that (it might be my last show so I guess it’s ok to say things that might rub someone the wrong way), when you say to your performer friends ‘I will be able to buy tickets at the door right?’ What we hear is ‘I might come, unless something much better happens, in which case I won’t cause I don’t really care about what you do.’

I have sold out shows at Tjarnarbio before. Tjarnarbio seats 200 people, and on every one of those sell out shows, I had sold like five tickets until an hour before the show started. It’s hilariously tragic because the whole time you think to yourself ‘I should just cancel, nobody’s coming’ and then you come out to a full house and think ‘Why do you guys do this to me? I was gonna cancel the show an hour ago.’

So yes, buy a ticket. Buy it now. Stop me being anxious about whether or not people will show up.”

Your show is part of the Fringe Festival:, what’s that?
“The Reykjavik Fringe Festival is an arts festival that brings local and international artists together for a week of exhibitions, performances and interactive experiences. Fringe festivals are a great way for emerging, established and lesser known performers and artists to connect with audiences they might not have had access to before. So in a nutshell, it’s a week of awesome things that people living here can go see. There’s also going to be a lot of live streamed content this year because of COVID. It’s a great chance for people to see some incredible art.”

So, no plans after that?
“Well after fringe, I will be doing a live show of Crapapella – which is my crappy acapella band with comedian Kimi Tayler. But apart from that, I have absolutely no idea. It’s July and for the first time in 10 years I haven’t thought about what my next project is. Isn’t that exciting?”

The show will also be at the secret cellar on Saturday and Sunday. You can buy tickets here.

Á. Óskarsson
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Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

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