It was a wonderful night at Maffia Comedy Club this summer. I’m there often, working as host, and there can be nights when it feels like a job, when I have to pull out every trick I have just to get the crowd to unfold their arms and do more than crack smiles. This wasn’t one of those nights. The crowd felt warm before I took the stage, they liked everything I had to say, they liked everything everyone had to say in the first half. Easy money and fun besides.

Then it was time for the break. As I stood in the entrance, people from the crowd filed past me to get to the bar, and one guy stopped to talk to me. “Great show!” he said. Immediately followed by, “Why don’t YOU do standup?”

I knew right away what he meant. There was nothing mean-spirited or ironic about the question. In fact, it was, oddly, a compliment. “You’re really funny, why aren’t you a comic?”

Musing on the difference between hosting and performing is hardly a new subject for me, but this particular incident gave me a new perspective on previous thoughts. While I’ve complained about comics getting more attention from the crowd than the host, the truth is that I’ve had just as many compliment me after hosting as they have after doing sets. It’s just the nature of the beast to be complimented as a comic when I do a set and as a host when I host.

I think the reason I reflect so much on the difference between host and comics is that, when I host, I feel like an outsider. I share the stage with the comics on the lineup, but I’m not one of them. It’s not even my job to be funny. I just need to hold the show together and keep the crowd warm for the actually funny people on the lineup to do their jobs.

I’ve heard it said that it’s worse to have an okay gig than to bomb and that the best you can expect from hosting is an okay gig. While I see the truth in that and also that it’s not the host’s job to be funny, it’s still a reductive way of thinking. A few weeks ago, during yet another Maffia hosting gig, something distracted me while I opened the show. I fumbled, briefly, but recovered quickly enough that I doubt anyone noticed. It wasn’t until I left the stage that I understood what the distraction was: I’d forgotten to say half the things I usually say when I open a show. I didn’t have to. The crowd was lit and ready to have a good time and didn’t need me to tell them to laugh at jokes.

With a goal of doing as little as possible as host to ensure a good night, with a mindset that I should get out of the comics’ way as fast as I can, it’s no wonder that I’m not as visible as the others on the lineup. I’m always cognizant of hypocrisy and would never let myself become a host who thinks the show is all about him. I can’t tell the crowd, “Never mind me, check out these comics!” and also whine that they don’t see me as one of the comics.

What am I saying? I’m Swedish. I can always complain.