Kimi Tayler’s show at the Secret Cellar, W.W.K.D. (What Would Kimi Do), promises to “unpack her nostalgia for the 90s.”

“What Are You Doing? Kimi Tayler: I’m Building A Fort!”

Lofty Ambitions Comedy Opens At Loft Hostel.

On a late winter Thursday, a crowd sits awaiting a comedy show about to start. How strange it is to be in a crowded room sitting in the audience of a show. Everyone around has their masks off and is drinking beer. It’s certainly not something most of us are used to doing, given the past year. Lofty Ambitions Comedy nights hope to change that and get people back out for a good laugh.

Heading up the endeavor is Kimi Tayler, Reykjavik’s one and only working queer comedian. A lesbian from the UK, Kimi is the widow of the late Jono Duffy, Iceland’s best mix of Eurovision references and potty humor. Now that he’s moved to France, Kimi finds herself regrouping and partnering with fresh new talent. Working with Kimi this time is Mette Kousholt who, a few days off the boat from Denmark, is jumping right into the Icelandic comedy scene. Who said moving internationally wasn’t possible during a global pandemic?

Lofty Ambitions’ first show was Thursday, March 4th. The lineup of seasoned comedians plans to host bi-weekly events throughout the spring and into June so as long as gathering restrictions stay as relaxed as they currently are.

The next show is Thursday, March 18th from 20:00 to 23:00.

With low case numbers and more doses of various vaccines on the way, the possibilities are looking good. Following their first show, an air of uncertainty hung over the comedians as a small outbreak of the UK’s variant B.1.1.7 made its way into supermarkets and gyms. We all stopped to contemplate if Iceland was facing a fourth wave. Thankfully, the scare was contained but it showed how luxuries like going out to comedy shows can change at the drop of a hat.

GayIceland sat down to chat with Kimi about life in Iceland, comedy, and what she’s been getting up to during lockdown.
“I’ve been very busy for an unemployed person! I’m doing Icelandic classes four times a week, studying sociology at the University, and just started volunteering at Kattholt. I’m quite bad at being unemployed because I’m thinking, right, how can I make myself more employable.”

What comedians started Lofty Ambitions?
“So it’s me, Laufey Haraldsdóttir, and Mette Kousholt. The three of us got this going. Laufey started doing comedy in London and is a question master on Gettu Betur, Iceland’s college game show. She has improv experience and will be rotating as host for some nights as well. Mette arrived in Iceland in August while no shows were happening at all. She was well established in the comedy scene in Denmark. We all met through Soulflow Comedy shows at Gaukurinn and wanted a new space to work on material for our hour-long shows. Laufey has a lot of experience with improv. Who knows, there may be some musical comedy. It would be really great to get some character comedy. I’m going to be doing a live fort building. There’s room for so much with this platform.”

So Lofty Ambitions is not an open-mic night?
“It’s important for us to do something longer than an open mic format so the comedians can experiment and try new material for a longer act. It needs to be a space that’s an open form with other comedians who know what they’re doing. There’s such a lack of diversity in comedy in Iceland, to begin with. There’s no character comedy, no physical comedy. Most often it’s a bunch of straight white guys doing stand up.”

“I’ve joked about it before, I’m the premier gay comedian in Iceland because Jono’s gone. And let’s face it, that was the only way I was going to steal the crown.”

Are you Iceland’s only queer comedian now?
“I’ve joked about it before, I’m the premier gay comedian in Iceland because Jono’s gone. And let’s face it, that was the only way I was going to steal the crown [laughs]. Let’s be honest. But losing him and not having a tribe of allies like Jono makes it more difficult. The great thing is that now after Soulflow there’s this community of people now who are writing and performing and I won’t be the only one. That’s a really great thing.”

Why did you step away from running Soulflow?
“There needed to be a space like Soulflow, because that didn’t exist when I was starting comedy in London, and there wasn’t one here. It’s great for getting started in comedy and getting more talent out. The next step really didn’t exist, as there was nothing for established comedians to kind of stretch themselves. This is always going to be people who know what they’re doing, so the audience can feel quite comfortable. Although it might be a bit off the wall, the audience will know these comedians. Some of it might be shit, it’s new material not tried out on a crowd before. But no one’s here to take someone down or criticize. The great thing about a space like Loft Hostel is that it’s a super-inclusive space and I think the ethos is going to attract a slightly different crowd than you’re going to get in a comedy club space.”

So what should we expect from a Lofty Ambitions show?
“The nice thing about Lofty Ambitions is some of the guys who do more traditional stand-up will be coming here and testing material out. It’s more of a curated lineup than people just signing up on a list. Most of these comedians are working on 1-hour shows and will be doing 20-30 minute sets. Everything we’re doing is dependent on restrictions and our priority is to make sure everyone is complying. Loft is doing an amazing job at that. Unless there’s a deadly eruption affecting we’ll be going ahead every two weeks.”

How do you feel about bringing covid into your material?
“It’s impossible to ignore a year like this. For some people, it might be more a part of their comedy. For me, I’m not going to go talking directly about covid but about the circumstances that we all find ourselves in now. They’re pretty good for comedy, ya know? Like, I lose my job, everything’s falling apart for a bit and then I just decide to get into building blanket forts. My girlfriend is doing all these high-minded, academic things at the university and then comes home and asks “What are you doing?” Well, I’ve done all the pickling, there’s nothing left to pickle in the cupboards, so I’m building a fort!”

How do we bridge the gap of this pandemic not being funny?
“It is crap, it is horrible. And there are lots of people who have a sense of how lucky they are to be in Iceland as foreigners. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a bit crap to be stuck here. And then there’s the guilt of people back home having a much worse time than we have.”

Were you performing online during the pandemic? How is it without a crowd?
“It’s horrible, I hate it so much. I did a gig a couple of weeks ago to a camera. It was just me in a room with two sound tech guys and the first minute and a half was just horrible. The whole point of comedians is that we need attention and laughter and reactions. It was just to a dead camera. You can’t feed off that. Then once I could see one of the sound guys was laughing I was like, okay, I can work with this now. That’s good. But no, online doesn’t work for me. Some people have done really well with it and found good outlets, but there’s a lot of trash out there too. A lot of people who are comedians think they’re content creators now.”

Where do you find your inspiration for your comedy?
“Usually there’s a nugget of truth with the things I’m talking about. I definitely raid my own experiences. My mother is a brilliant source of comedy. She’s fantastic. There are so many little things that come up when I’m just having a conversation with her that I just take. She’s a big ally for the LGBT+ community in the UK. She runs a PFLAG group. And sometimes she knows far more than I’d like her to about, well, everything. She went to some kind of queer family day and she stayed for a lecture on puppy play. She said, “It was a bit of an accident really. I was in the one before and thought I’d stay and be supportive for the next group!”. A lot of things just happen around me, I’m always laughing at horrible things that have happened to me.”

“I’ve been wading a bit more into my mental health. I’m writing some new stuff right now that’s a bit heavier but it’s so important to take the power away from it. In these situations, if you can take the power away by laughing about it. For me, my source of comedy has always been myself. Comedians have different styles, but a situation I’ve been in myself will be a butt of a joke, I’ll never make someone else the butt of a joke because that’s punching down.”

With bars closing at 23:00, is there time for all the acts?
“It means we have to start on time as well! I really enjoyed that last week. Starting on time was really nice. Comedians are not known for their time-keeping skills. Comedians and Icelanders are not known for their time-keeping skills, so when you put those together it means you say a show is starting at 7:30 and you don’t start until 9:00. The Brit in me who likes to arrive 15 minutes early for everything really enjoyed this. Because everyone’s got a specific amount of time it means that if someone runs late it cuts off another comedian’s time. But maybe this will be one of the benefits of covid, comedians will actually start on time! I like to be home by 11, so punctual comedy is perfect [laughs].”

The comedians performing at Lofty Ambitions Shows include:

Snjólaug Lúðvíksdóttir
Snjólaug is an Icelandic comedian who has been performing all over the world in the last 10 years. During covid, however, Snjólaug was forced to get a real job and consequently became Iceland´s worst employee since those bankers crashed the economy. She will share her misfortunes and rookie mistakes with Lofty Ambitions.

Snjólaug Lúðvíksdóttir.

Helgi Steinar
Helgi Steinar began performing standup comedy in Beijing, China in 2014 and since then has made a name for himself as an international comedian. This concluded in him winning Funniest Show at last year’s Reykjavik Fringe Festival. He has toured with and opened for comedians like Tom Stade and Pete Johnsson and is a regular in the Reykjavik comedy scene.

Helgi Steinar.

Kimi Tayler
Kimi Tayler is a British comedian who’s performed in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark. Despite her obvious dyspraxia she is an award-winning disco dancer, self-titled dating expert, one half mediocre Accapella band Crapapella, and is an absurdly charming and unpredictable storyteller who has risen to the heady heights of Iceland’s premier D-List Celesbian standup comedian.

Kimi Tayler.

Donal Vaughan
Triple-award-winning Irish comedian Donal Vaughan started comedy in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since, taking his stand up internationally. When not making fun of himself, the BSc Zoologist jests about science and the natural world. He also regularly tours theatres and festivals around the UK and Australia with his science comedy children’s show Science Magic.

Arnór Daði
Arnór Daði is an Icelandic comedian who’s been working the Reykjavik comedy scene for about 4 years. He has traveled the country doing stand-up and won three awards for his show “Big Small Town Kid” at the Reykjavik Fringe Festival 2020.

Arnór Daði.

Mette Kousholt
Mette is Danish, and for diplomatic reasons, ambivalent about talking about that fact here in Iceland. She’s been doing stand-up for over 3 years including performances in the UK, Denmark, and of course here in Iceland. At Lofty Ambitions, Mette will offer up her observations on being new in a country, and on getting beyond 30.

Mette Kousholt.

Mauricio Villavizar
Mauricio, originally from the Dominican Republic (not the US, before you ask), is now living out his 30’s here in Iceland with his Icelandic wife and their twin babies. He’s been an active comedian for 2 years, and has quite a few stories to tell about it! Mauricio is working on a show for the Reykjavik Fringe Festival, and is eager to come work it out in front of you.

Mauricio Villavizar.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Nasdaq

         

        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at www.nasdaq.com.

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
        comes from 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals—the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

        From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

        Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

        The Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

        Whales of Iceland
        - larger than life

        Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

        Landsbankinn
        - leading financial institution
        Landsbankinn

        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

        The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

        Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

        The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

        Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

        Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

        It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

        Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

        Aurora Reykjavik
        - northern lights center

          Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

          Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

          The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

          Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

          Contact Aurora

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            Dohop
            - get inspired
            Dohop

            Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

            Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

            More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

            VSÓ Ráðgjöf

               

              VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

              Macland
              - for all your Apple needs
              Macland

              From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

              Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
              For all your Apple needs. We are here.

              Ísey skyr
              - once tasted never forgotten

              Our Story
              Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

              For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

              Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
              This is our secret and you are in on it

              You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

              Núðluskálin
              - noodle bar
              Núðluskálin

              Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

              All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
              We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
              Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

              Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

              Seatours
              - adventure cruise

              Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
              and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

              The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

              600x400-seatours-tasting

              This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

              600x400-seatours

              The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

              Birds, possible to spot:
              -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
              -eider ducks
              -shags
              -kittiwakes
              -fulmars
              -white-tailed eagle

              The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
              Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

              Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

              Contact Us


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