A caveat- in March 2020 I will celebrate nine years of standup. So no, technically I haven’t wrapped up my first decade of comedy, nor literally my first decade of standup. Hey, my blog, my rules.

But now that the 2010s have come to an end, I’ve thought a lot about where I was as the decade began and where I am now. About the progress I’ve made, about all the things I’ve learned about myself and standup in general. Some things that were confirmed, others that were surprises, good things and bad things but above all the sheer amount of them, and I thought this would be a good time to recap some of them.

– I was right, I am a nice guy.
Nothing makes me feel better than helping others, probably due to my Hero Complex and pathological need to save people even when they don’t want to be saved. The consequences have been more positive than negative, however. I honestly can’t count the number of people I’ve helped over the years, helping them write or straight out writing for them, giving them their standup debut at one of my clubs, introducing them to other club owners, vouching for them to get them bigger and better gigs, just to name a few things I’ve done. I hope that’s my legacy and how most people think of me, because…..

– Turns out, I can be a real asshole.
There are dozens of people I really like and enjoy hanging out with that I couldn’t tell you anything about other than their jokes, which I’ve heard a hundred times, because I make zero effort to learn anything about them. I’ve met people five or six times for the first time, because it took that long to remember meeting them at all. If I see someone new in a club, chances are high I’m not going to have an urge to say hello until I’ve seen them on stage and found them funny.
I’ve trash-talked other comics, though I’ve toned that down significantly in recent years. Gossiped- if there’s one thing comics love to talk about more than themselves, it’s other comics- and though I should know better I’ve certainly spread stories that weren’t my own. I’ve toned that down, too, but I’m still guilty of it from time to time.
“I have so many beefs in standup it makes me want to become a vegan,” is one of my standard remarks because I know plenty of people who don’t like me (and don’t claim to know all the people who don’t like me). Sometimes I didn’t do anything to deserve it, I swear! Most of the time, though, it’s earned. Comics are sensitive by nature, and I’m no exception. As tough as we talk, feelings are easily hurt.

– All it takes is a real apology to make everything ok again.
At one point, a comic really pissed me off and I didn’t talk to him for nearly a year. Lots of people got to hear why I was angry, except him; we weren’t close and didn’t see each other often, so he had no idea he’d done anything wrong. Eventually I confronted him, to his surprise, and he gave a genuine apology, not the more common non-apology of, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” He also bought a round of shots and all was forgiven.
This came as a surprise to me, that I could be that angry for a long period of time but have it go away in an instant. But this revealed another surprise…

– I can hold a grudge a long, long time.
Not too proud of this one, but if someone makes me very angry and never apologizes for it, they are dead to me. I have quite a number of these instances that, remembering them now, piss me off nearly as much as they did at the time. As much as I would prefer to forgive and forget, I’m just not wired that way.

– Talent isn’t the biggest key to success.
When I think about all the comics I’ve met over the years, there are far, far more people I never see today than familiar faces. Of them, the overwhelming majority quit. A small handful achieved greater success and have no need of grinding in open mic clubs anymore. They’re talented, of course, but they have more in common than that: ambition, social skills, an it-factor that is hard to define, discipline and a fair amount of luck.
I probably have a lower opinion of my own talent than I should, but I also have no ambition, poor social skills, cool is the last word one would use to describe me and, like most comics, I am very lazy (notice that this is the first blog post in a year). I’m lucky enough to be an English-speaking comic in Sweden, which makes me something more than just another middle-aged white guy talking about his dick, but this combination will almost certainly not lead to my Big Break.
Like I said, no one with zero talent will make it far, but I could name several successful comics who have pretty limited talent (I’m not actually going to name them because see the name of my blog). They’re strong enough in those other areas to make up for it. I could name several comics who are extremely talented but lacking in those other areas, and the biggest level of success they might enjoy is being known as a comic’s comic, never growing out of the clubs.

– Corporate gigs are awesome.
Wait, you WANT to pay me to talk about my penis, which I usually do for free? Sounds fantastic!

– Just kidding, corporate gigs are awful.
The money is nice, don’t get me wrong. But chances are high that you’ve been booked as a surprise by the one person at the company who has a sense of humor and your introduction to the party is, “Ok everyone, stop talking to each other and enjoying yourselves, it’s time to give your complete attention to someone you’ve never heard of who will try and make you laugh.”

– Counting gigs was silly.

I used to obsessively count and track all my gigs.  When I hit 500 gigs in less than three years I realized how goofy it was and a complete waste of time, so I stopped counting.

– Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to stop counting gigs.

Recently I saw someone make a very big deal about doing their 1000th gig.  Now you tell me I was supposed to keep counting?!