Anyone expecting a bitter diatribe here is going to be disappointed. Full disclosure: I would love to be nominated for a standup award, would be thrilled to win. Everyone loves a good ego stroking and I’d be suspicious of anyone who claimed otherwise. To also be recognized by one’s peers, that adds an extra layer to it. Despite it not being the point, I love hearing other comics laugh at my jokes more than hearing the crowd laugh, although, nine times out of ten, I’m hearing other comics laugh because the crowd is very much not laughing.

For as long as I can remember, the club Oslipat has arranged the Standupgalan as an annual event. This is a club that has a limited number of shows each year in a few different cities, with a very limited number of comics performing. They cater to a young, hip crowd that loves standup and if they’ve ever had a bad night, I’ve not heard of it. It is very much a klubhouse for kool kidz and if you needed further proof that I am not, never have been nor ever will be cool, just look at that spelling. The triple k’s are coincidental.

At the gala they give out a few awards to nominees who would have a shot at performing at the club and/or are liked by the club owners. In other words, you have a handful of comics running the club, nominating comics from a pool that is tiny in size compared to the entire community of active comics. Inevitably, another annual event occurs: a comic who would never have a shot at performing at Oslipat complains on social media that the whole thing is unfair, and then several others in the same boat add to the noise. I imagine that far many more feel the same way but don’t say anything because see the name of this blog.

A change was made to the nomination process a few years ago, perhaps in response to comics criticizing the whole thing as a bit incestuous. Now, comics who were members of a certain Facebook forum would be able to nominate whomever they wanted… and then a jury hand-picked by the club would decide the official nominees and winners. I’d like to think they have the best of intentions here, wanting to avoid a Boaty McBoatface situation, but without seeing what everyone submitted, critics could say the process was just an illusion and nothing had really changed. To be fair, Oslipat never claimed that democracy would rule and, anyway, it’s their show to do with as they like.

Obviously, the nominees are selected on more than just laughs per minute, which just adds fuel to the grumbling. Maybe you noticed that you got more laughs than the Comic of the Year but you didn’t even get nominated, that’s not fair! Yeah, but you also might be kind of an asshole, or didn’t have as much impact in other ways. Every winner deserved their win. You can complain it’s just a popularity contest, but I’ve known several comics who are super nice and super sociable and bomb on a regular basis. Social skills get them gigs but not awards.

After taking some time off due to covid, the annual tradition resumed this year, complaints included. All of this tempest in a teacup nonsense is meaningless because, ultimately, the entire thing is meaningless, except to the nominees and winners. Even for them, that honor only goes so far. As host of a regular comedy night, if I would introduce them as, “Next on the lineup we have someone who just won Comic of the Year at this year’s Standupgalan!” that comic would murder me to death. First of all, because few in the crowd would even know what that means, and secondly because I might’ve well said, “Aren’t you lucky, the next comic is the funniest person in Sweden!” No one wants the crowd to have high expectations, especially in this country.

Standup is an artform, I love it to death, but as I’ve said before, it’s an artform where Downs Syndrome is a punchline, where we talk about our penises and vaginas and how much we hate public bathrooms. It’s extremely unserious shit we take extremely seriously and we can have one, two, thirty award shows a year where we heap praise on each other and clap each other’s backs as much as we like, but it’s not something the general public cares about. Nor should they.

Again, I’m not portraying myself as a virtuous person above being congratulated. Back when the nomination process changed, I thought my two partners and I had a real shot at Club of the Year, or a nomination at least. We’d run Power Comedy Club for a few years by that point and it was the most unique club in Stockholm at the time, if not the country. We were popular with comics and, since we’d have twenty comics on a slow night, I figured we could earn a nomination by sheer numbers alone. I was disappointed that we didn’t get nominated and not surprised by the club in Stockholm that did. Run by the koolest of kool kidz, it featured comics from a small pool performing to a hip, young audience that loved standup. It had Oslipat’s spirit and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

I can make a thousand excuses but the reality is that club had something we never had: an audience. The place was packed week after week and, meanwhile, I’d be happy if we had ten people in the room who were there to just watch the show, not waiting three hours for their spot on stage. The other club absolutely deserved the nomination. On the other hand, plenty of clubs drew crowds and didn’t get nominated, so there’s that.

I also have no idea how many of our regulars were able to take part in the nomination process or how many that could even bothered. I had the opportunity and ignored it, not even to vote for myself. I have no idea how many comics take the time to fill out the form but I’d be surprised if it’s a large number. If you don’t vote you can’t complain, right? Wrong, we can always complain. Especially in this country.

While I’ve never received an official award as a club owner (at least not yet! fingers crossed!), I did get something better. One night at Power my partners and I were surprised with a bedazzled bottle of prosecco each, along with a thank you card signed by over thirty comics. A few comics decided to organize a big thank you to us, taking donations and the time to make the bottles for us, and the money left over was handed to the bartender to cover our tab for the night. It did, barely; when you run a “proper” show that is an hour long, followed by three hours of comics doing five minutes each, you drink a lot of beer.

I still have the card and the unopened bottle, which will stay that way. They mean a tremendous amount to me. Plus, I know that many comics around today got their start at Power, not to mention friendships, podcasts, even other comedy clubs. Now, if I could just a plaque, I’ll be all set.