A recurring theme of the past week was noticing walking stereotypes around me. Alcohol seems to turn people into characters. When you play an RPG with a massive open world, like Skyrim, you notice certain types of NPCs pop up, over and over again. Sweden was like that to me last week.

Take the Swedish “gubbe”, for example. Think manly man, typically middle-aged (but not always), drunk at a soccer game at 10 AM. Quick with a homophobic joke, probably quick with a hand if the wife isn’t as quick with dinner. A gubbe is bad, gubbar – more than one of them – are worse. In a group they feed on each other’s energy.

Since it’s rare that I host game shows in Swedish at On Air, it’s equally rare that the groups are anything other than company gigs. If they’re drinking, I might get a gubbe or two, but co-workers are generally better behaved than friends. I once hosted a bachelor’s party, though, where one of the guys humped my leg like a dog. I could explain the context but it wouldn’t help; I was just glad that day that I was hosting and not one of my female colleagues.

I was listening to a show last week hosted in Swedish for a company of gubbar. At one point, the host speaks through a video feed to a man on the street, although it’s obviously pre-recorded. We make a joke of that by asking one of the players to shout out a question, which will prove it’s live. “How big is your cock?” came the question, followed by ho-hos and guffaws.

I was eating at Burger King before Maffia Comedy last Saturday, because show business is glamorous. Adding to the ambiance was another type of NPC- the older drunk couple. They only have one volume for conversation – loud – and the man’s deep voice was matched, or perhaps bested, by his female companion, like they eat cigarettes when not enjoying fine dining at BK.

Then it was time to open the doors at Maffia. In addition to hosting I was responsible for checking tickets, because show business is glamorous. Three cougars approached and I can’t think of a better word to describe them as they were, let us say, mature and randy. One of them wore a vest and nothing else as a top and must’ve used a spell to protect her modesty. She also asked me where the bathroom was and somehow managed to call me babe six times in thirty seconds.

They seemed fun, though, and I was glad to see them sit in the front row when they didn’t have to. Swedes avoid the front row like the plague and I really should’ve taken this as a warning sign, but the night prior I’d faced a front row that was half-empty. The three of them were chatting and laughing as the intro was playing, still laughing as I climbed onto the stage (and then noticed the empty shot glasses they’d left on the stage in front of them, like it was their table), still laughing as I began to speak.

I had no choice but give them my full attention. I started asking them questions but they couldn’t speak, only laugh, which was funny at first but quickly annoying. I reflected on the fact that people laughing too much is an interesting problem for a comic to face, but that didn’t help me much at the time. Vest Lady was the worst of the three, plus her fake tan and pale lipstick made her look like a laughing skull, which freaked me out a little.

Knowing that the crowd was just as annoyed as me was a concern to me as a host but reassuring to me as a comic. Since these drunks couldn’t speak, all I could do was talk at them. It’s no good to be harsh (Dane Cook said it’s like trying to enjoy family dinner after Dad punched Mom), so I just kept a smile on my face and openly mocked them. Eventually, however, I just had to ignore them and do my best to speak over them. At least I’d let the crowd know that yes, we all hate them, let’s get through this thing together.

They continued to be a problem throughout the first half but, as is standard with this type of NPC, a night out is marked by high highs and low lows. One comic paused mid-sentence to point out that Vest Lady had passed out, eliciting a laugh from the crowd, but all I could think was, please just let her sleep. If we could just get through the first half without major incident, we could make sure the three of them would not return for the second half.

We didn’t make it that far. While the last comic of the first half was on stage, he got irritated by them openly talking to each other in the front row and paused to scold them. I couldn’t hear what they’d been saying, but Vest Lady’s body language said she wanted to leave and her friends didn’t. Turned out it wasn’t just wishful thinking on my part, because soon thereafter she stood up while still talking to her companions, oblivious to the comic standing just in front of and above her. He grabbed her shoulder (and alarm bells rang in my head at that) but she violently threw him off, shouted that she had to leave, and the three of them walked out.

After the break, I told the crowd, “I hate to start the second half on a down note, but I’m afraid I have some bad news. Our friends will not be joining us again.” The crowd cheered.