I like to think I’m a very good host. I also like to say I’m a very good host, since others don’t say it enough about me, the fuckers. Sure, I’m not the most traditional host in the world as I largely eschew crowd work, and don’t worry, I’m not going to delve into topic of crowd work yet again. Let’s just say that I recognize my own strengths and weaknesses and I can add more value to a night by not asking someone their name and what they do and is the person next to them their partner or relative or both because that happens in the north of Sweden, wocka wocka.

Also, Swedes don’t want to be spoken to, in clubs and otherwise. A crowd of 100 of them, 99 will not like being made part of the show. The only thing worse is the one who does, but more on that later.

I have a new full-time job with a varying schedule and I can’t tell which shift suits me the best. I can start very early and end very early, which theoretically is best, except I’m not a morning person and I’m so wiped after, I can’t do much. The middle shift gets me more sleep in the morning, which is great, but I get home after dinner, which means the whole day is shot, so that shift is the worst. I feel best during the late shifts, starting late afternoon and ending at midnight, or beyond. I can sleep late, even get to the gym before, and I’m a night person. The only drawback is that I can’t do standup those nights. Oh, or see my family.

I’m currently in the midst of a run of late shifts and, my two nights off from work being Saturdays, I host game shows during those days and host Maffia Comedy at night. Which means two weeks of very late nights with no breaks. And I’m closing in on my fiftieth birthday.

Granted, hosting game shows and a comedy club should be more fun than work. Especially considering that, not only can I drink while working at a comedy club, it’s practically encouraged. My day (and often night) job sometimes involves driving, so drinking is discouraged. Still, last Saturday, I would not have minded the night off, despite having missed Maffia the night before. I don’t want to take it for granted, however. Many would love to perform there and can’t (and some of them are super pissed about it, God bless them). And so it was that I went and hoped to have a good time.

By the way, just thought I’d throw this in here, although it doesn’t suit my topic. Consider it a “kids these days, amirite?” aside. I recently met a rookie I thought has potential and I sent him a message, encouraging him to come by Maffia sometime. I think he could start with a solid five minutes and grow from there. His response was a little too enthusiastic so I clarified that he should come meet the owner, maybe have a clip prepared. He said, cool, he’d thought I was offering him a gig but he’d come by sometime. He hasn’t yet. Kids.

I guess while I’m off-topic anyway, I might as well address the question I’m often asked, as to how to get booked at Maffia. The same way you would get booked anywhere. Go to the club, even if you’re not already booked. Introduce yourself to the owner. Be polite. Don’t pretend to be God’s gift to comedy, that your stage time is a favor to the club. Have a clip ready. Think to yourself, “This clip will either get me booked or prevent me from getting booked for a decade or more,” so make sure the quality of the clip is more likely to do the former. When you do get booked, show up early and do your absolute best. And if you end up eating shit, don’t wonder why you don’t get booked again, like it’s one of the grand mysteries of the universe. But if you can’t tell the difference between a great gig and eating shit, I really can’t help you. Aside complete.

Speaking of knowing when I eat shit, back to last Saturday night. Taking the stage to start the show, I noticed a lovely young woman in the front row, gingerly sipping from a shot glass. This will be a fun night, I thought, mistakenly. I got as far as, “Hi, I’m Ryan, I’m from the US,” before being interrupted by a “woooo, make America great again!” that was slurred by another drunk woman in the middle of the room. “Oh, hello, my drunk blonde friend, what’s your name?” Look at me, doing crowd work ten seconds into a show!

“Maxine and I’m jussht kidding.”
“So… don’t make America great again?”
“Uh, yeah, but change your president first.”
“We’re about to, back to Trump.”

It got a laugh from the crowd but a blank stare from Maxine. I also noticed that the woman in the front row whom I’d seen sipping a shot was so blasted her eyes were completely glazed over. As were her companions to either side of her. We were now one minute into a two-hour show.

To be fair, my opening set went alright, as did the first half of the show, but the crowd was drunker than usual. I blamed the weather as we were still getting snow in mid-April (jokes aside, even I think this is ridiculous). I’d decided not to do very much material to start the second half, figuring a short set would end the night and get me home sooner, but when the owner wanted the break over, many people had not yet returned from the bar. I didn’t want the headliner going on while people were still walking in, so I ended up doing a longer set than I’d intended.

Which the crowd didn’t like very much. I think we were feeding on each other’s negative vibes by that point. The right move for a host in that situation would be to switch to crowd work or, at the very least, very crowd-friending material. I was annoyed, though, so I instead yelled at them about Swedish pizza. Even as I launched into the bit, I was thinking that this is a routine I haven’t done in literally years, that it involves a callback to another bit I wouldn’t do, and it hinges on the crowd liking me. They didn’t like me, so it went as well as you can expect.

My grandfather liked to joke about his first night in action during D-Day, “I dug a foxhole so deep they wanted to charge me with desertion.” Here I was, digging a hole of my own. I think it was just an instinct to lash out. Oh, you’re not having a good time? Fuck you, neither am I. However, being the professional and good host that I am, I got them back on my side and happy before the headliner went up.

By roasting a guy in the front row that had been roasted all evening. Because I am a good host who knows low-hanging fruit when he sees it.

I’m also good at my real job. A few nights ago, I kept the office open until 2 AM to help a customer, and he posted a lovely review online. “Employee waited us [sic] until 2 AM. Was super gentle [!] and professional. Employee Name Rajan!”