I once saw a documentary about activism in the music industry and, at one point, Bono was interviewed about the time he met with the Pope to discuss feeding the poor in Africa. He was criticized heavily at the time by other artists and the documentary actually featured the band Chumbawamba mocking him. Because if you want to interview a band on the same level as U2, you book Chumbawamba.

Bono addressed the criticism by saying something like, “Look, I get it. In my younger days I would’ve been standing on the wall alongside them, tossing molotovs. Now that I’m older, I know there are more productive uses of my time.”

Far be it for me to compare myself to international superstar Bono and the circumstances don’t nearly align, but in some small ways I can relate. Passion, at least passion for destruction, feels like a young man’s game. While I’ve always been cynical, I’d say there was a fair balance with optimism, but as I get older, I think the balance is tipping towards cynicism. When faced with a decision in the past, I often thought, “I have nothing to lose, so why not?” whereas now I more often think, “I have nothing to gain, so why bother?”

All this preamble illustrates the then vs now issues of this blog entry. There’s a group on Facebook called Standupforumet- moderated by a comic, it’s a place for comics, club owners, and fans to post and discuss all things standup. There’s a fairly long list of rules to follow and, quite often over the years, the admin has needed to step in to shut down nonsense, because comics are assholes.

One of the rules is that clubs can make only one post per season to promote themselves. If they want to continue promoting shows for that season, they can add comments to those threads. Makes sense as no one likes spam. Years ago, while the admin enforced that rule several times, one club seemed to avoid his ire: Stockholm Comedy Club. There was a period when they would post several times a week and no one said anything.

My suspicion at the time, right or wrong, was that the admin turned a blind eye as he didn’t want to jeopardize his own spots at that club. Don’t shit where you eat, indeed. It drove me nuts, though, and as I’ve always been a Social Justice Warrior, I wrote a joke on the forum at the club’s expense. Before clicking Post, I wondered, will this get me blacklisted from the club? Will anyone click Like, thereby getting them blacklisted as well? Got nothing to lose, so why not? I clicked the post button.

It was a simple joke. Coming just after SCC’s umpteenth post that week, it said, “Can anyone tell me where to find info on Stockholm Comedy Club?” The likes began to roll in and Babben Larsson, one of the Greats of Swedish standup, wrote, “Hahahaha.” I remember that because it was the first and so far only interaction I’ve had with her.

Then my worst fears were realized when SCC’s CEO contacted me on Messenger. I refer to her as the CEO because she referred to herself as the CEO in post after post, and she was prolific to say the least. The message I received was three pages long and I’d intended to copy/paste it here, because I thought Messenger was forever, but it’s gone so I guess not. I don’t remember the whole thing, naturally, but the gist was, “I just wanted to ask you what motivated that post, because I would have a hard time working with someone who doesn’t respect my hard work.” My reply was something like, “It was just a joke because you post so often,” and I remember wanting to but not adding, “and I hope everyone in the comedy community has a sense of humor.”

I might as well have added that, because I was no longer welcome at SCC. She had a chip on her shoulder because she feared everyone thought the only reason she was CEO was because she was married to the comic who founded the club. We did think that because that was the truth. Sure, she’d performed a few times herself, but she wasn’t exactly setting stages on fire. It didn’t even matter anyway; hell, she could’ve been the Swedish Mitzi Shore. She did say one funny thing to me before the ban, though: “The best thing about me taking control of the day-to-day operations of the club is that it gives my husband more time to write new material.” Ah, that still makes me giggle to this day.

Unfortunately, her insecurity manifested itself in her ruling the club with an iron fist. I was either the first or second comic to be banned after she became CEO, but the first banning predates her official involvement in the club. She overheard a certain female comic make a remark about another comic and was so pissed, she made sure her husband would never book her again. This comic was furious when she learned of the ban but, to be fair, “The only reason she gets gigs is because she has a brain tumor,” is a pretty shitty thing to say. RIP Candrah.

I guess they both forgot or otherwise made peace, because that comic would later become a regular at SCC. No, not Candrah. As a matter of fact, my ban was nearly lifted, twice. The CEO had a great idea to partner with Match.com and do singles’ nights hosted by a married comic couple. You might question the wisdom of a show for single people hosted by a successful couple, but are you a CEO? I didn’t think so. Anyway, four shows were put on the schedule, but the couple the CEO had booked were not available for the third date, so my wife and I were booked for that one. As the date approached I hadn’t heard anything, but after speaking to the couple who’d hosted the first show, I learned that the rest had been cancelled. The audience for the first show was sixty angry single women and one happy single dude. Whoops!

My second opportunity arose when SCC had the idea of doing all-English nights and booked two comics as regular MCs. One of them got banned, though, and when the other questioned the ban, she was banned as well. The CEO then asked me if I was interested and I politely declined.

By the end of her tenure as CEO and also wife, the list of banned comics was quite massive. I could tell a dozen stories, but this entry is too long as it is. It’s also off-topic.

As for Standupforumet, SCC stopped posting over and over again and peace returned. Recently, though, another club began posting all too often- West Side Comedy. Like Bono, I get it! They’re proud of the club, want to promote it, want to build their presence. I don’t harbor any ill will and it looks like it’s going well for them. Every time I’d get notification of yet another post, though, it made me think of the rule going unenforced and how I’d once called out SCC for doing the same thing. More than once I went to repeat my old joke and didn’t. Not because I was afraid of being banned by yet another club, but because I asked myself, “What do I have to gain by this?” I just let it go.

Until, that is, they posted twice last week within a 24-hour period. I figured I’d be a hypocrite myself if I was willing to mock SCC but say nothing now, so I posted, “Where can I find info on West Side Comedy?” The reaction this time was… interesting. One comic DM’d me and asked me what I’d like to know, one of the club owners posted links to the club, another owner asked me what I wanted to know and then liked the post a day later. That was it. I’d had a bit of anxiety over the SCC post but, this time, I was completely apathetic, and I don’t blame others for being just as apathetic. Could be that people care less about what I post now than they used to…. nah, can’t be that. I don’t even know how many people even noticed the post at all as I think the forum has lost a bit of its luster over the years. Which is not throwing shade at the forum- it’s clear that Facebook itself has lost its luster. I don’t even suspect that the admin turned a blind eye to West Side out of fear of being banned himself; it could just be that he’s sick of moderating a forum for comics. You know- assholes.

Now, several days later, I see that every West Side post made after their first of the season is gone. I don’t know if West Side took them down or if it was the admin and now I feel a little bad. I’m not sure if the comics behind West Side understood my post or even care and I’m betting they didn’t even know they were going against the rules. Again, no harm meant, it was just a joke, and what optimism remains in me hopes that everyone in the comedy community does, in fact, have a sense of humor. Guessing this won’t put me on their short list for headliners, though.