A week before Christmas, my position where I worked was erased, and I agreed with my manager that I should leave. Which is like describing a breakup as “mutual.” Everyone says that losing a full-time job in Sweden is next to impossible, but not only is it very possible, I am really good at it, apparently.

At least I saw it coming, for good and for ill. Heading into the Christmas season I can’t say that I was in the best of moods. Grumpy, anxious, taking anger out on friends, generally wondering how I let myself get to that point in my life. All of that came to a head in early January, just when I was enjoying my annual, post-holiday depression, which hopefully isn’t fueled by also being sober every January.

I had to get away, to get my shit together. I quit my club, canceled all my gigs, knew I needed a break but not how long it would be. I didn’t want to make a production of it, just wanted to go away quietly.

It was the longest break I’ve taken in nine years. I’ve heard comics talk about the benefits of taking a break, but I can’t say I experienced any. Didn’t miss performing, didn’t think of any jokes, had absolutely zero motivation. What I did do was spend a lot of time on my couch, not going out, barely communicating with anyone. I tried therapy for the first time, so now the only thing separating me from all the other comics out there is that I’m not on Tinder. Watched a lot of TV, played a lot of video games. Which was fine, for quite a while, but, not surprisingly, it got boring after a few months.

By the start of March I was thinking about performing again, but still didn’t have a real drive to do so. I had a standup event to run for a visiting US comic in the middle of the month, one I’d have to do, and wasn’t excited about. When Trump announced the US-Europe travel ban, the comic had to cancel, and though I feel bad for that person, the news came as a relief. I just wasn’t ready for it.

However, when the middle of the month actually arrived, I was asked to host another show and I said yes. I was ready to go out and see the world again! … just in time for everyone to stay in. I’m such a hipster, I self-isolated before it was cool.


I was booked to host Friday and Saturday night. Friday was…. brutal. Not many tickets sold in advance, and not everyone who’d bought a ticket showed up. The headliner didn’t show up, either; I told the audience that him not being there was proof that cocaine doesn’t help against covid. Covid was the elephant in the room but I was far from my best myself. It was my first time on stage in over two months; I feel rusty after a week. I’d assumed it wouldn’t be too hard, since I host so often, but I barely remembered my own name up there. On the bright side, we didn’t take a break, so after doing five awful minutes to start the show my time on stage was reduced to just introducing the next comic.

A few of us went for a beer after, though none of us felt like celebrating. Being in a half-empty bar just magnified the gloomy atmosphere.

But I needed that night to get me ready for Saturday. The crowd was half the size it normally would be on a Saturday, but it felt full enough that no one noticed the difference. I was loose, not nearly as nervous, and asked the club owner to have a break in the middle like the show normally does. That way, I got to do ten minutes at the start and another ten after the break and I, quite frankly, was fantastic. I’d got my mojo back!

A few of us went for a beer after, because we wanted to celebrate… and left the half-empty bar after one beer. It’s not easy to maintain a party mood when you’re in a ghost town.


In the past week, I’ve been in four clubs, performing twice. Not many people in each room, of course, and I would describe their attitude overall as “fuck corona.” Which is exactly what I told them from stage:
“Fuck corona, yeah! Fuck old people! We’ll show that virus! I think we should take it a step further and spit in each other’s mouths- it might help build our immune systems and will give me an erection, so win-win.”

I know that just being outside the apartment at all is controversial and I don’t share that “fuck corona” attitude, but my bottom-line feeling is, if some people are choosing to go out anyway, the show might as well go on. I’ve heard comics compare themselves to musicians on the Titanic, which is apt, since, like the Titanic, our venues are slowly slipping under the ice. I’m glad I don’t have to make the choice to keep a club open or not; most have closed, some choose to remain open despite cries for them to shut down. That choice may be taken from them soon, especially if an official ban on bars and restaurants comes down.

I hope that doesn’t happen. I’m still spending most of my waking hours on my couch, even if I’ve gone out a few times. I’ve watched too much TV, played too many video games, done waaaay too much soul-searching. My brain is terrible company.


Every once in a while, something comes along and scares the shit out of the human race. SARS, Ebola, Avian Flu… My all-time favorite was Super AIDS, which didn’t capture our attention for very long.

When Swine Flu arrived to scare the shit out of all of us, experts advised using hand sanitizer regularly. Naturally, we trampled over each other to get that, as well as the vaccine that came out not long after. A year later, we found out that neither worked; the vaccine didn’t even give people narcolepsy, even though many still believe that.

I’m not an anti-vaccer. But I am against being reactionary and living in fear. I’m also against not caring at all, saying, “meh, it’s no worse than the flu.” I think we should take it seriously and take precautions. Many of us are in risk groups, or close to people who are, and we should be extra cautious. But no one should be passionately “OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!” or passionately “the media is just making a big deal out of nothing” because we simply don’t know enough yet.

I know what medical experts say today and I take that seriously, but what makes science science and not religion is that experts change their minds as more data is made available. “THOU SHALT BATHE IN ALCOHOL SANITIZER” wasn’t written on a stone tablet when Swine Flu came out. After time and observation those same experts could say, “Whoops, we were wrong about that.” Maybe it really does help against covid, or would if we used even more of it, or maybe not at all. We’ll find out.

Maybe self-isolating works, or would work if everyone did it. Maybe comics telling dick jokes to 10 drunk strangers in a small bar is worse than licking a toilet seat, or maybe it doesn’t matter at all. Maybe posting 18 times a day on social media about covid and screaming out the window at people outside to get indoors for the love of God will save us all, or maybe not at all. We’ll find out.

Well, most of us will find out. Most of us will get through this. Some of us will not live to see covid-free streets and chemtrails back in the sky above us. Some of us will die from covid. Or car crashes. Or domestic violence, on the rise thanks to self-isolation. Or from God knows what. Death is coming for us all, sooner or later.

I often say to rookie comics, “You’ve got 5 minutes on stage. You can be whatever you want, talk about whatever you want, so how do you want to spend that time?” Not many of us know how many minutes we have left to live, but we all know it’s limited. So how do you want to spend that time? I’ll try not to judge you for it, but I probably will. Hey, I’m not Jesus. But who is?

If we’re very lucky, the worst of this will blow over by summer, in time for covid to be replaced in the headlines by shark attacks, and then that can scare the shit out of us instead. Life returning to normal.