Recently I had the honor and big privilege of partaking in Lund Comedy Festival, Sweden’s biggest (and only??) comedy festival!
This was my first time at the festival and I wound up performing 4 times!(!) At the Grand Slam quarter-finals and semi-finals; at Blekingska nation (a student club) where I was the MC and one of 3 comedians; and I premiered my first solo show, entitled En Judisk Viking (A Jewish Viking) at Hotel Lundia!
Being at Lund was amazing and dream-like, really. The main draw for a lot of the comedians who went down (or up, if coming from Malmö, just 20 min South of Lund) is the Comedy Grand Slam, a competition in 3 parts, spanning two days. On Friday is the quarter-finals, then Saturday the semifinals followed by the finals, the big Grand Slam at night. The quarter finals consisted of 6 groups of 7 contestants (that’s 42, right??) who each do a 5 minute set. The audience gets to choose 2 favorites, voting via mobile phone, and there’s a jury of three who also vote. I liked the whole voting for two comics thing – it felt slightly more objective, even if comedy, like all art, is subjective.
The quarter-final (first round) went excellently for me – I did a so-called “tight” 5 minutes (as tight as it gets for me, pretty much, which is probably considered rough-around-the-edges compared to the smoothness that a lot of comics strive for…let’s just say that my favorite artist is Bob Dylan, so if you know his albums and concerts, you get me…or do I need to write a separate essay on that? Ok, I will! :p) ). But the almost-smoothness wasn’t what felt so good – it was the response. The audience was with me from the moment I went on stage, throughout, and until after I left the stage.
And that for me was the biggest reward. I did go to the semifinals and that was also enjoyable, but I would say the quarters were definitely the best in terms of response. Comedy is an incredibly volatile art-form: there’s the comedian; the comic’s material; the delivery; the comic’s mood; the audience; the number of people in the audience (laughter is contagious); have they been to a comedy show before?; are they there for the comedy, or just to eat and drink?; how’s the room? too big? too small? just right? etc etc
So, I’d have to say that it was an excellent crowd and MC (also so important!). Ok, I was funny too…and comfortable on stage. Which isn’t the same thing as not being nervous, if that makes sense. In fact, I’m nervous if I’m NOT nervous, as in: where am I going to get the energy from if I don’t have nerves? If I’m nervous AND prepared, I’m able to channel that nervous energy into an adrenaline-packed performance and hopefully get the audience onboard to my strange world of humor.
There were so many excellent comedians and Sunny VK won the whole shebang, very deservedly – nice work, Sunny! 😀 Kathryn LeRoux was a finalist and I competed in the same round on the semifinals, she’s hilarious too, love her Britney Spears impression especially. 🙂
Highlight from the semifinals: Thåström finale. I’ve been going back and forth between the early 2000’s version of Thåström with the cap and the round glasses and the more recent dignified aging rock musician/magician look with the dress jacket and hat. Leaning towards the latter. Still haven’t been able to nail the crack in the voice on stage but I can do it in the studio (will record that soon). Niche humor is my fav. : )
I got to Lund on a Thursday night and after leaving my bags at the hotel, I took the tram directly to Blekingska “nation” – a nation is a student club at Swedish universities. In the old days, you belonged to the nation corresponding to your home region of Sweden. Probably back then, the accents were even more extreme and perhaps culturally too. Young people felt more comfortable around folks from “back home,” but today, students join whatever nation they please.
It was a fun challenge being the MC – so much of a comedy night relies on the MC – and I felt really honored that Lund Comedy entrusted me with that! I think I did pretty well, but I must have been a little flustered from travelling since I introduced the comics in the wrong order, so I called up Madeleine Hezemans first but she’s such a pro that she just went up and did her thing! Viktor Sturesson also did great with some musical comedy. We decided we’ll have to sing a trio sometime. 🙂
Being 42 and doing a set for “the kids” was a trip and inspired me to whip out something I don’t normally do but which is one of my favorite bits: Baby Yoda meets 7 Years mashup.
Last but certainly not least, I did a solo show, En Judisk Viking in the basement of Hotel Lundia which is one of the nicest and most intimate stages at Lund Comedy. Each time I told another comedian I was going to perform there they said, wow, good for you! And it’s true! It’s a classic stage with a lot of character and a lobby with NYC vibes. I was pretty nervous about whether or not I’d have an audience and the week before showtime, I reached out to the Jewish communities in Lund and Malmö, and I think some of them showed up! 22 people bought tickets and a few of my comedy colleagues turned up too which was so nice.
The show was 50 minutes long and what really kept it together, I think, was the music. I worked a lot on not just what I would say, but how to make it work as a show, and the tracks I worked on – both “from scratch” and borrowed music – worked like glue and made transitions entertaining.
And of course, I get by with a little help from my friends. Loyalty is the best, and Johan and Sonja and Jon were all there to help out. I even got some last minute help on my Dylan signs (homage to Subterranean Homesick Blues if that means anything to anyone) from Ambrose, a very talented comedian from South Africa who was there performing, and from Maja working in the lobby at Lundia. The posters arrived just in time, halfway through the show. 😛
All in all, it was a fun time, a funny time, certainly not boring, and a learning experience.
I’m SO GRATEFUL that Lund Comedy Festival recognized my talent and potential and entrusted me with all of that entertainment-responsibility!
Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to perform at some of the snazzier clubs in Sthlm and around Sweden. At the end of October, I’ll be visiting “home-squared” in the USA and may do a gig, we’ll see.
Thanks for all the support, y’all!