* Thomas Merton

A few nights ago, I went to see Jon Stewart and Dave
Chappelle perform in Stockholm, at Globen.
Amazing show, sold out or damn near.
Even their opening act was fantastic, despite half the crowd not bothering
to be there, preferring to stay in the bar.
Hell, not everyone was there for Jon Stewart, either.

Being there, having a great time, it struck me how much I
would’ve loved to be even just the opening act that no one cares about and few
remember afterwards. Naturally, feeling
the love bestowed on Stewart and especially on Chappelle, I thought about how
amazing it must feel to be on that stage, to reach that level, to earn that
much adoration. What if that’s me

It won’t be and that’s ok. I have zero ambition.


A friend asked me yesterday what I want to be when I grow
up. We were talking about my job and her
University studies. I said, ”I want a
high paying job with no responsibilities,” which I don’t think is too much to
ask. I’m easy to please! All I really want to do is whatever I want to
do, whenever I want to do it. Sleep
late, play video games, tell jokes, stay out late, lather, rinse, repeat. As of this post I’m 43 ½ and this is the
extent of my ambition.

It’s just very difficult, at this point in my life, to
believe I’ll ever have a job that I really care about. Don’t get me wrong, I take work seriously and
put in my best effort, but I’m not invested on a personal level. If I do well I keep my job, keep making
money, hopefully get a raise, but paying bills is what it’s all about. I’m a husband and a father, I can’t lead a
life with zero responsibilities, as appealing as that may sound.

Other than my family, of course, what I care about is
comedy. As I’ve said on stage, ”I think
about comedy more than I think about sex… and I think about sex A LOT,” which
is accurate. Having a job affords me the
chance to put as much into standup as I can, since that’s where my passion
lies. I make a bit of cash telling
jokes, which is nice, and I would love to make more, though it’s hard to
imagine it being my full-time job. The
only thing keeping me from calling it a hobby is how all-encompassing it is.

As passionate as I am about comedy, about standup in
particular, I have no ambition there, either. Keep performing, keep running clubs. Maybe someday do an hour-long show on my own,
which at this point I absolutely could do if I put my mind to it. But I haven’t yet because, well, see above.


I’ve been performing for nearly seven years now, which isn’t
long at all anywhere else, but in Stockholm makes me an old man on stage more
than being 43 ½. Over the years I’ve
seen many of my peers surpass me, moving upwards in and sometimes onwards from
standup- touring, high-profile clubs, radio, TV, etc. Some were already veterans- at least by
Swedish standards- when I started, some started around the same time as me,
still more started after I did, sometimes long after.

It goes without saying that, in each and every case, I am
funnier and more talented than them.
Kidding. I’m competitive and I
could grumble that luck and/or better social skills had more to do with their
success than talent for a few of them, but I can’t claim to match their
drive. If you’ve got goals in mind, you’re
more likely to do what it takes to reach them.
Ask me where I see myself in five years and I say, ”Here.”


I’ve known comics who, after three to five years in standup,
felt they’d reached a plateau, a level they just wouldn’t get past. Felt they’d never get into radio or TV or
movies no matter how much more effort they put into standup, so quit. Why bother?

I’ve come to realize that I am firmly on that plateau and I’ve
likely been here longer than I know, and that’s ok. I never understood before how anyone could
quit, especially talented people, but I get it now. It has to be frustrating to know you’ll never
get what you want while watching your peers move on to bigger and better
things. It’s fertile ground for jealousy
and bitterness, not a fun place to be. I
know a few comics who did become jealous and bitter and stuck with it anyway; I
honestly understand the ones who quit better than the angry, spiteful ones still doing

Myself, I’ll keep doing it out of love. I may have reached the highest level I’ll
ever reach and I don’t put that all on my lack of ambition. This may be all my talent is worth. Maybe it’s because entertaining the audience
isn’t as important to me as entertaining myself, or because I’m not very
social, or I’m unlucky, or all those reasons or none of them. Doesn’t matter to me.

It may be a plateau but the view is amazing.