To my
knowledge, there’s just one word in Swedish for someone that stands on stage
and tells jokes: komiker. I had a
conversation with a Swede several months ago and he asked in English if I
preferred to be called a comic or a comedian.
I hadn’t really thought about that before, so I Googled it later and
wasn’t surprised to see there is a difference.
There’s an old saying about it, in fact:

“Comics say
funny things, comedians say things funny.”

that makes it appear that being a comic is better, I don’t think one is better
than the other. For me, it comes down to
this: what’s more important to you, the material or the performance? A comic can go on stage and do material he
(in this case, it’s almost always a man) knows the audience will hate, and they
do, and he bounces off the stage with glee.
For comedians it’s laugh or die.

The saying

“A comic can
be a comedian but a comedian can never be a comic.”

In other
words, an angry comic can make silly faces in between rants, but a silly
comedian is not going to suddenly go on a rant about Israel.

9 out of 10
rookies I meet are comics, but I don’t think that’s necessarily their
choice. In the beginning we’re scared
and nervous and focused on getting the words out right and just plain surviving
the experience; the only thought of “performance” that might cross our minds is
holding the mic correctly and keeping our eyes off the floor. I think being a comedian takes time and

get a lot more attention than comics.
More likely to headline, more likely to receive glowing reviews. People go to a standup club to laugh and have
fun and drink, and comedians seem to care more about what the crowd wants than
comics. On that note, I add my own

think they are there for the crowd; comics think the crowd is there for them.”

I laugh at
comedians but my heroes are all comics, and being a comic is something I aspire
to. I always assumed that I would evolve
into an angry, ranting guy on stage and I’m surprised to see that this hasn’t
been the case, so far. I have rants and
my favorite thing to do on stage is to call everyone in the crowd assholes (and
have them applaud me for it), but I learned early on that I get much bigger
reactions when I’m high-energy and smile now and then.

When I
started my material was much darker because I really enjoyed making the crowd
groan and be uncomfortable. I had a joke
about Down’s syndrome that evolved into a bit and finally an entire routine and
it pissed one guy off so bad he wrote a well-received blog entry denouncing it. After a short while, I decided that, as much
as I like making the crowd groan, I like making them laugh more.

I also
believed once that I didn’t care at all what the crowd thought of me. But after I bombed, really bombed for the
first time, I learned I absolutely do care about it. And I know that if I don’t think about
entertaining the crowd at all I won’t get many opportunities to perform. So
they want to have fun and that’s on my to-do list, but it’s at the bottom of my