One of the many lovely side effects of the rise of social media is how depressed people get when they see how well their “friends” are living life compared to them. I honestly can’t relate to this at all, mostly because I know it’s a gag; people may be living their best lives on social media, but not at all in the real world. People choose what they post and unless it’s something maudlin to purposely gather sympathy from their contacts (which is also fake), they post happy things, or show off. In fact, there’s a recent case from California where a wife stabbed her husband to death and it came out of nowhere, as far as their friends were concerned. Based on their social media, one would think they were the ideal couple.

I suppose the closest I’ve come to experiencing it was when a FB friend posted pics of his scuba diving session with whale sharks. I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving and nearly got to when my wife gave me a practice session as a gift, but as I headed out the door I remembered I have a hole in my head that shouldn’t be there and had to cancel. Long story. On top of that, swimming with whale sharks is at the top of my bucket list, along with visiting the pyramids of Giza and getting a laugh onstage. I was and continue to be jealous of his experience, but it never made me want to crawl under a blanket and die.

Can’t relate in the slightest. As a civilian, that is. As a comic, though? Oh man, can I relate.

Not to the point that I get super depressed about it, but yeah, I often get stung when I see another comic getting a gig at a club that has zero interest in booking me, or a sold-out show a comic self-produced, or being on a podcast or what have you. Knowing the tricks helps me avoid FOMO as a civilian but as comic it doesn’t seem to help. I know that when a club posts pictures from a show that doesn’t include the audience, it means there wasn’t much of one, despite the post claiming it was the absolute bestest night ever. I know that when a comic heavily promotes an exciting gig but doesn’t mention it later, it didn’t go particularly well. But there’s still that gut reaction of, “Why not me?!”

There’s plenty of reasons for why not me, not least of which is that not everyone thinks I’m funny. Not everyone even likes me and Lord knows there’s plenty of reasons for that, too. But I think the biggest reason is likely that not everyone thinks of me at all. Growing up in America, we think everyone in the world either loves us or hates us. In reality, most people don’t think of us at all as they have plenty of other things to think about instead. I’m barely out and about on the scene anymore. Many of my peers have, at least for the most part, outgrown the clubs that will have me and we barely interact with each other. Meanwhile, a lot of new faces have popped up in recent years and rarely see me, if at all.

Meanwhile, my social media presence has dropped to match my physical presence in the clubs. I’ve been fascinated by how my practice has evolved over the past few years. Pre-pandemic I spent a lot of time on FB, despite the fact that I found little of interest there. I’d scroll through page after page after page of my news feed with very few items catching my attention. It was the visual representation of white noise. I went into self-imposed exile at the start of 2020 and didn’t look at social media at all, only to encounter covid-imposed exile shortly thereafter. It felt really good to go away from it all.

As I’ve slowly come back to the world, my social media presence has increased as it’s an important resource for standup. I’ve also had more reasons to post things, like this blog, for example. Still, I’m barely online for long and can’t remember the last time I swiped more than a few screens of my news feed, and I miss a lot.

A guy I know came up to me a few weeks ago and said, “I’m not entirely happy with my life after I was on that TV show,” and my reply was, “You were on a TV show?” He was shocked I didn’t know, which just goes to show that we assume every one of our social media contacts is aware of everything we post. Which makes it sting all the more when you’ve got 1000+ friends but only get a handful of likes.

It’s easier knowing I’m not alone. There are a few veterans who could perform at whatever club they choose, but even then there are clubs who wouldn’t say no if asked for a spot but make no effort to invite them. Other than those happy few, I can’t think of a single comic who gets to perform at any and every club. At the same time, I could write a long list of comics who perform at 99% of clubs and yet piss and moan about the one or two that won’t book them. Also, as I pointed out a few entries ago, comics who are very successful yet upset they didn’t win an award that’s irrelevant. It’s a perfect storm when drive and ambition meet low self-esteem and insecurity.

Currently, I’m trying as much as possible to “post and ghost”- put a link to this blog or make a joke or whatever and not look at how many or few reactions it gets. Not the easiest thing in the world, obviously, and probably a little self-defeating if I don’t engage back with people who engage with me. If people take the time to leave a comment and I don’t acknowledge it, that could look like I don’t care, and won’t exactly motivate them to engage with me in the future.

I guess I’m still figuring out what comes next for me. The club scene is continuing to bounce back in Stockholm, though it’s hard for me to imagine that I’ll suddenly start grinding or that I’ll even want to. The thought of opening a club of my own again is ever-present but consistently averages as a maybe; it seems that every time I get excited by the thought, something happens that makes me think, not in a million years. Mostly it’s the thought of having to deal with other comics and as I’ve stated time and again in this blog, comics are assholes.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way and keep making posts for the one person who doesn’t like me very much and yet is my biggest fan: me.