Houston Matters

How a Comedian Ran for Mayor In Iceland and Won — Then Fell In Love with Houston

(Above: Houston Public Media’s Edel Howlin poses in 2015 with comedian Jon Gnarr, who once served as the mayor of Iceland’s biggest city.) It’s not that surprising to find all sorts of interesting people rolling through Houston. It is, after all, the nation’s fourth-largest city. And we’re a major player in all sorts of industries. […]

Jon Gnarr poses with Houston Matters producer Edel Howlin.(Above: Houston Public Media’s Edel Howlin poses in 2015 with comedian Jon Gnarr, who once served as the mayor of Iceland’s biggest city.)

Jon Gnarr Book CoverIt’s not that surprising to find all sorts of interesting people rolling through Houston. It is, after all, the nation’s fourth-largest city. And we’re a major player in all sorts of industries.

For a while, one of those interesting people included Jon Gnarr (pronounced YAHN guh-NARR). He’s a comedian from Iceland, who — as a joke — once ran for mayor of the country’s biggest city (Reykjavik) — and won. Imagine the character Stephen Colbert played on The Colbert Report becoming a US Senator or mayor of New York City. While he says politics wasn’t his thing, Gnarr brought some comic relief to some hard times in Reykjavik.

So, what’s all the got to do with Houston? Well, for several months in 2015, he called Houston home as a writer and lecturer-in-residence at Rice University.

Now, he’s back in Houston to give a talk at Brazos Bookstore called Sour Apples: The Pleasures and Paradoxes of Climate Change in Iceland, on Thursday (April 27, 2017).

So, on that occasion, we revisit the conversation Houston Public Media’s Edel Howlin had with Gnarr about his time in politics and why he calls Houston “the greatest city on earth.”

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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