Went to see Jim Gaffigan last week in Stockholm. He was very good, much better than his latest Netflix special, and the subject matter was surprisingly lacking in food. He had a few chunks on the Bible, though, and I get the feeling that comics hit the Bible when they’re having a hard time filling out an hour. I saw Louis CK do the same thing last year.

And that’s all I want to say about Gaffigan. This post is really about his opening act. When comics visit Stockholm from overseas, they sometime bring opening acts with them, or just go without. Sometimes, the promoter will book local talent as an opener, and this adds a little sting to those of us in the crowd who are comics. Not only are we not on stage, we know the person who is.

I had no idea if Gaffigan would have an opening act or not and my jaw dropped when I heard the announcer say, in heavily accented English, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together for Jim Gaffigan’s opening act: Flakrim!” I’ve known the guy for years and, seeing him on stage, felt one part jealousy and two parts pride. His full name is Flakrim Fejzullahu and I’ve advised him for a very long time to adopt a stage name, so I chuckled to myself that the announcer didn’t even attempt to say his last name.

Gaffigan is a rare bird these days, squeaky clean, and I assumed- correctly, it turned out- that someone had told Flakrim to be clean as well. He did his set in English and didn’t even say as much as bitch. He did a 9/11 joke, however, and I was impressed by the size of his balls that he would try to pull that off and happy for him that it worked.

I met him five years ago when I went out deep into the west of Sweden, to do a spot at Karlstad Komedi Klubb (which is called KRP and not KKK, for some reason). He was hosting that night and my immediate thought was, “Oooofff, I guess this counts as good in Karlstad.” Not to put too fine a point on it, he was TERRIBLE. Talking to him later, though, I found out that, not only had it been his first time hosting a show, it was the second or third time he’d been on a stage at all.

Eventually, he made the move to Stockholm and hit the grind hard. He proved himself very quickly as someone who could be counted on, on stage and off. I saw him very often at Power Comedy Club and, one night, he told me he was jealous of the thickness of my beard. I told him that mine used to be thin until I slathered my face with honey before going to bed. I could tell he didn’t think I was joking and that, if I didn’t say anything more, he’d give it a try, so after an hour I told him I was just fucking with him.

After Gaffigan was done, I caught up to Flakrim in the lobby. As we were talking, an older American woman stopped as she was walking by to tell him he was good. She asked him his name again and, after hearing it, replied, “Flakrim?” with a scowl on her face. She said it like, “Seriously? That’s the stage name you’re going with?” It’s a curse, being right all the time.

He’s a good dude and still practically a teenager, so I’m glad it’s going well for him. But since it’s going much better for him than for me, I kinda wish I let him go to bed covered in honey.