When it comes to counting gigs, some comics keep excellent
track, others haven’t the slightest clue how many they’ve done. I’ve seen enough updates on Facebook (“Tonight’s
my 50th gig!”) to get the feeling that more keep count than would
like to admit. I’ve met several that
kept counting for a while and then stopped.

I doubt anyone has ever been as anal at tracking their gigs
as I was. I can’t remember exactly why I
started, although I was tracking them from the first gig. Partly as a diary- I’d make a note if it was
my first time at that club, or if it went really well or very poorly. But mostly it was the number that I focused
on. Not only the total, but how many I
averaged each month. I even charted it in
Exel because, well, I could. Chasing a
high average pushed me and I was proud to see that I was doing five gigs a
month in 2011 and fifteen a month by 2013.

I think the main reason I kept such good accounting- besides
taking standup very seriously- was that I met a comic early on who told me he’d
done 300 gigs in his first three years.
That number felt absurd to me, like there was no way I’d do that many in
my first three years, but I was determined to try.

It’s important for me to note at this point that I never
thought this would impress anyone; I kept counting for no one’s benefit other than
my own. Still, when I hit my 100th
gig a few months after my one-year anniversary, I made a big deal of it. Announced it in advance on Facebook, wore a
jacket and guyliner on stage, told the crowd it was my 100th gig,
and partied afterward. Less than a year
later, I hit 200. Didn’t make a big deal
of it at all, though I mentioned it on Facebook with a self-deprecating comment
of, “I guess I don’t have an excuse to not be funny anymore.” Which was an opportunity for a FB ‘friend’
who didn’t like me very much to write, “No, you don’t.”

Months before my 3rd anniversary, I hit 300. I didn’t mention it to anyone. Certainly I was proud of it, proud that I’d
been so active, had earned so many opportunities outside the Stockholm open mic
clubs, but it didn’t make me as happy as I’d once expected. Just a few months into my third year, I hit
400. By that point, even I didn’t think
it was especially interesting, and I wasn’t so quick to update the list or make
any notes about the gigs. By last summer
I wasn’t updating the list at all.

Now I’ve had some time on my hands, so for shits and giggles
I updated the list with the gigs I’ve done and those I’ve got in my calendar,
and I saw that I will hit 500 well before my four-year anniversary in March
2015. Again, I am proud of that, to a
certain extent, proud of all the places I’ve been in such a short time, that I’ve
found gigs in eight countries, and I’ve got interesting gigs on the horizon. I know I have over 90 minutes of material
that’s been worked out on stage, that works.
90 minutes in over three years may be nothing compared to Carlin or
Louis CK writing new 60 minutes every year, but I’m nothing compared to them as
well, so I’m satisfied.

Still, I know I have a lot to learn, and I’m not convinced I’ve
found my true voice on stage yet. I’ve
said before that I set a high standard for myself and I am the first to say
that, despite coming up on four years and 500 gigs, I am a rookie comic. I know someone who doesn’t feel they’re a
rookie because they have three years of experience; I know someone else who
referred to oneself as an established comic after six months. Years, gigs, they’re just arbitrary numbers
that mean nothing in and of themselves, it’s the meaning we give them that