I imagine the standup scene in Stockholm is much like any
other, like a pyramid with a large base of rookies at the bottom and far fewer
pros at the top. Gigs look the same way,
lots of open mic-level clubs at the bottom, easy to get, and far fewer, more
lucrative opportunities at the top for us to compete over.

Usually, getting a gig at the top takes a lot of time and perseverance,
but now and then a rookie with very little experience has the good fortune to
be suddenly accelerated to a good one.
Now, there is a nice community spirit amongst rookies and you might
think this would make the rest of us happy, that one of us made it! You would be wrong. We encourage each other but we are also competitive,
angry, and bitter. We say, “That rookie
is not ready for that gig,” and, “The only reason that rookie got that gig is
because a Superstar got it for hen*.”

We’re probably right, on both counts. There’s a good chance that rookie won’t do
well, which will just hurt hen in the long run. But why did the Superstar promote hen in the
first place? Did the Superstar say, “I
am going to use my power and influence to give a great gig to a completely
random rookie hen is not ready for”? No,
the rookie was impressive in some way.
Funny, or unique, or perhaps a bribe was offered, who knows?

Perhaps we’ve also had a gig with that Superstar, who did
not choose to be a patron for us. That’s
the root cause for the jealousy- what does that rookie have that we don’t?

Instead of worrying what that one person thinks or doesn’t
think of us, we should WORK HARDER.
Note- if all you want to do is make people laugh, then stick to your
6-min set that you know works and enjoy your hobby. But if you want the good gigs, then take more
advantage of the time you have on the rookie stages. If you’ve got a year of experience and you
know you can make people laugh, then just doing the same thing again and again
is not going to make you better any more than going to the gym seven days a
week and doing six pushups is going to make you Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Take risks.
Think about what scares you, like crowd work, and do that. Learn your material, practice at home, know
how long your bits are before you go on stage.
Move around on stage. Ask for
feedback. Change the order of your bits,
try not to do the same set twice. Seek
out new venues, new contacts. “Be so
good they can’t ignore you,” as Steve Martin said. If you have a passion for standup, then let
others see it, feel it.

No one gets every opportunity, so use your
God-given ability as a comic to just think about yourself and don’t worry about
the others. Eventually you’ll be in
right place at the right time. Or you
won’t. Who said it’s all about talent?

A final note to those rookies that luck
into great gigs- stay humble. You’re
still rookies.

*hen = Swedish, gender-neutral pronoun