I want to preface this with, if you haven’t ever been to the Lund Comedy Festival you need to go next year, it’s one of the best comedy festivals in Sweden!
Okay, let’s go back about a month ago when I saw a competition posted on my FB Feed for LCF “Grand Comedy Slam”, which was something I was thinking about doing but had my apprehensions since I hadn’t been invited down for an actual show. Continuing about my business, I later saw this competition pop up again on my feed and that it was open to anybody. I get my inspector gadget on and send a message to a comrade of mine to see if he knew what was going down in Lund.
Turns out he was in the competition and I was too late, bookings were closed. “Ah F##K it” then like the cynic I am but for some reason I asked for the organizers info anyway. So I send the email as a last ditch `hail mary`attempt to see if I can finagle my funny a spot. No dice, I get the, “if someone drops out or takes an arrow to the knee” email.
———- TWO & A HALF WEEKS PASS———-
As I´m sorting through my gmail spam, worldstarhiphop and youtube channel updates, I find a reply from Max Savhn, the dude who is running the Grand Comedy Slam that reads;
Are you still interested in competing in Grand Comedy Slam? There has opened up a spot today, so if you want to participate please let me know as soon as possible.”
Well looky, looky who found a comedy cookie! Chance has showed her beautiful face and just within two weeks until the competition. I had to ask myself “can I win this” because otherwise it would be a waste of time/money to go all this way and loose in the 1st round. On top of that I work a day job and of course, guess who was scheduled on the same exact weekend of the festival, (points thumbs to self) THIS GUY! Typical #FML moment.
Just as I was about to write back saying, “I can´t make it because of work”, an inner voice pops in my head again “maybe you can win this”. A sudden burning sensation! Not like “I ate too much Mexican food heartburn”, more akin to “IM HYPED UP”. I owe it to myself to at the very least give my talent a shot, even if its a shot in the dark. I mean this is my career! I decided to do something I haven´t done in a while, believe in myself.
First papa gotta find a brand new bag and by that I meant find someone to cover my shifts, err´body still got bills that need to be paid okay! (SASSY BLACK WOMAN).
The minute I actually needed Swedish “efficiency” to show up it was like I had fill in for me leprosy. Co-workers were ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging like Patches O’ Oulihan! I was on bended knee ready to tap out when sweet lady chance bared her beauty once again in my view and somehow miraculously got all my shifts covered. (CLUTCH)
HOORAY! NOPE HOO WRONG!
I still needed lodging, plane tickets, and all that other stuff. Luckily I´m #BALLIN (on a budget of course) and it was sorted out.
——Day 1of Grand comedy Slam Lund comedy Festival—–
When I arrived I felt a feeling of purpose. And then I get the schedule. (DUN DUN DUN)…Up first, in the first heat at 1215pm?! #CMON
Most comics hate going up first, AKA “biting the bullet” because essentially it reduces your set to the “warm-up” Act. Instead I took this as an opportunity to set the bar of the competition. If I came out the gate with a strong delivery, insatiable energy and packed punchlines at the very least I had a chance despite my odds. Also the lunch crowd isn’t exactly my demographic but hey lets throw it the wall and see what sticks. After all the competitors went up, judging was decided by an applause meter program and best two advanced… We get to the score cards… and the winners are… “Claus REiss and Yemi Afolabi!” Oh snap I made t it, NICE!
———Day 2, Round 2———
I had even tougher competition and this time I´m up last. Which for some reason felt better because I could gage the crowd a little bit longer. We got to the score cards this time and I dropped one joke so I’m thinking, “I f##ked up”. “And the winners are… Johannes Finglaousson and Yemi Afolabi”! Word again, woah I actually might take this.
——— THE FINALS———
The venue for the semi-finals were in a small conference room that had roughly 40-50 people per heat. The finals were later that night at 10:30, held in a bigger gala-type venue with a packed house of 300+ audience. Format was the same except that we´d be interviewed by the hilarious Ann Westin after each set. Oh yeah did I mention that TV4 was recording? (NO PRESSURE)
Everybody was super nervous in this heat including myself, you didn’t have to be telepathic to know what all the contestants were thinking. I was just listening to hardcore rap music, which strangely calmed my nerves. Everyone kills, I go up last, do my set and take a deep breath.
We go to the scoring… (I was told afterwards during the scoring that I turned pale which is a feat unto itself) “and the winner is …Simon…Svensson…” I´m not gonna lie I was salty, who wouldn’t be especially considering the hoops I jumped through to make it this far but like all competitions there can only be one. What was interesting is how I lost by 0.1 percent of a decibel. He came in at 90.3 I came in 90.2… Which had me like…
Anti-climatic, I know! Cinderella story ends here folks with the most bittersweet position, a a fraction of a point of a decibel 2nd place! I was surprised how close I got and maybe I shouldn’t have been. I am a comic whose been paying 6 years of dues. Thought it was my time but the stars were unaligned.
Have a belief system! Have one in your talents! You might be surprised how far it gets you comrade. Sh#t, people are spiritual about everything else nowadays, why not be about your dreams. Pray, chant, rain-dance, whatever, just practice something that makes you feel you were meant to manifest that dream. I’m a black expat, pursuing a career in comedy in a scandinavian country. Odds are stacked against but that’s why we gamble right? People put all their chips in a crap soulless day job, and end up loosing miserably anyway, so why not play the hand to your strengths? I’m off to work better punchlines, write more or promote and do whatever it takes to get the 0.1 decibel win next year.
I did lose, but learned a little bit of faith can feed my funny.
Good luck comrade, I believe in you!