The title and introduction to Icelandic comedian, Laufey Haralds‘, standup set suggest this will be a hand-held tour of Nordic crime drama. And some of it is. She opens with a short monologue, narrating the pretend opening of a Scandinavian noir crime novel, which is a nice setup but doesn’t really go anywhere. However, other sections meander from this brief and venture into Icelandic trivia, family impressions, and historical anecdotes.
It becomes clear early on that the show is going to be a stilted one. The coming timing is usually ill-placed and occasionally it feels as if Haralds is losing her train of thought. The modest audience politely chuckle along but there’s no atmosphere here. It’s a shame because some of the material is good. A short bit on ABBA songs blended with the philosophy of Kierkegaard raises some genuine laughs and could be strengthened even further. There are various other smart one-liners, just not enough of them, and several jokes unfortunately fall flat. Some intermittent impressions also feel too forced with not enough punchlines.
There is the potential for some great improv when Haralds asks us for suggestions for a setting and character for a new TV crime show, but after a muted audience response this just doesn’t work. Haralds then forges on with the segment but it doesn’t come together, and it seems even she realises this by the end.
At one point, the humour also takes a turn into new territory. A bit of cursing actually livens things up a bit, but an out-of-place breast cancer joke doesn’t seem to go down well with this audience. The thing is, for some tastes it might actually be one of the wittiest moments in the show. Unfortunately it’s the wrong show for this gag, but almost makes us wonder if Haralds could completely shift register and just write an hour of this much more edgy material.
Ultimately, Nordic Noir is too much miss and not enough hit. There are some interesting factoids and a handful of decent laughs, but surely the Scandi-crime genre is a goldmine for material? Haralds just isn’t able to deliver it on this occasion.