”Adam and Eve were in
the Garden of Eden and Adam said one day, ’Wow, Eve, here we are at one with
nature, at one with God, we’ll never age, we’ll never die, and all our dreams
come true the instant that we have them.’

And Eve said, ‘Yeah…
it’s just not enough, is it?’”

– Bill Hicks

His joke was meant as
a slag on women never being satisfied, but I’ve applied that to my own life
more and more over the past few years.
Once, long ago while I was married for the first time, a good friend asked,
“Are you happy?”

“I’m satisfied,” I
replied. She got angry. “That’s not enough! You deserve to be happy!”

“I’m satisfied,” I
repeated. “How many people can say the

It took several years
before I had to agree with her, I did deserve more than I’d had, did deserve to
be happy. I met people who made me feel
interesting, I left someone who made me feel lousy about myself and found
someone who truly appreciated me. My self-esteem
skyrocketed, to the point that I was ready to follow a life-long dream of
trying standup.

Since then, standup
has all but totally consumed my entire life.
Certainly my life revolves around it, from gigs to running clubs to the
vast majority of my acquaintances and friends all being involved in standup in
one way or another. Even while not doing
anything standup related, it occupies most of my thought while awake and often
creeps into my dreams. I get a lot of
ideas in the shower, for some reason.

I’ve come a long, long
way in just under four years. Well over
500 gigs, performed in several countries, two comedy clubs, even get paid now
and then. I’ve always been passionate
about comedy and now I’m devoting my life to it. That feels wonderful!

….And yet, I can’t
shake the feeling that it isn’t enough.
Years ago I said I was unhappy but satisfied, now I say I’m happy but
unsatisfied. The more I get, the happier
I become, the more I want. On the one
hand, that hunger is a good thing because it keeps me motivated, keeps me
chasing new opportunities. But it would
be nice to relax and say, “You know what?
My life is pretty great, I’m going to enjoy what I have.”

That feeling, in
regards to standup, anyway, increased recently.
I read the event info for another show and next to each performer’s name
was a quick summary of their accomplishments, as in, “So and So (Norra Brunn
[Sweden’s most prestigious comedy club], podcast, etc)”. I knew mine would read, “Ryan Bussell
(shitload of open mics).”

It was then I decided
to create a few opportunities of my own, rather than wait for doors to open to
me. Instead of waiting to be asked to
guest on one of the Legion of podcasts hosted by my peers (despite never
listening to podcasts), there must be some project or another I could develop
myself. (Actually, several months ago,
since everyone has a podcast, I recorded the first episode of a new show with a
friend; then we both lost interest because everyone has a podcast.)

I got involved in one
project with friends, one I’ve been asked not to talk about. Suffice it to say, it’s one of those things
everyone, including myself, has talked about doing forever but never actually
does. We will. Probably.
Comics are a flighty bunch.

I put a show together
with three other ex-pats, two Americans and a Canadian, called Team
Amerika. The ambition is to take that
show all over Sweden. How close we come
to that is anyone’s guess, but we have a debut show on the calendar at least.

A few days after my 40th
birthday, I’m headlining Friday and Saturday at Maffia Comedy, one of the few
shows in town that charges admission. I
have friends in video production that are going to record both nights and my
plan is to edit them together into one special, like an old HBO One Night
Stand. I even have a name for it: Simply
Resistible. (I’ll probably go with “Love
Refugee” for the next one.) Will it
work? I have no idea, but I’m going to

To top it all off,
despite saying for years that I never would, I decided to email Norra Brunn for
a spot. I figured, what the hell? Lately they’ve had a bunch of rookies on
their stage and I thought I’d give it a shot.
Thing is, the most common way to perform there is to be invited by an
established comic. I don’t have that way
in, at least not yet, but I do have a few respected comics who will put in a
good word for me. Probably. Comics are a flighty bunch.

Maybe I’ll get a
chance to perform there. I’ll get five
minutes at a very prestigious club that will look very good on my resume and
maybe I’ll do very well and maybe they’ll have me back in the next six months
to do another five minutes. I’d be happy
for the chance, but I’m still passive about it.
I’d rather focus my energy on longer sets for a wider audience. Besides, I did five minutes at Norra Brunn
once already. Sure, it was before the
club opened, during a special event for rookie comics, but I’ve got a picture
of myself on stage with the Norra Brunn backdrop and that’s really what

Life has been pretty
challenging, mostly due to my apparent inability to remain employed, but for
the first time in a long time, things seem promising. I have comedy projects and a long-overdue
wedding coming up, not to mention moving to a more manageable apartment close
enough to my ex that I can spend every other week with my daughter instead of
every other weekend. Shit happens and
one never knows what to expect, but on paper, at least, everything points to a significant
increase in happiness. Satisfaction,
however, will likely remain elusive.