As a little boy, comedian Jochem Myjer already knew how to make people laugh. At a violin concert, for example, his audience was not clapping, but above all laughing very hard. That humor felt like his lifebuoy for Jochem, he says in an interview with Coen Verbraak in the TV program Survive. “I was a weird kid at school. I was also bullied.”
The comedian also says that he was sometimes beaten up. “Then I sat on my bike and they said: stop you. Then I just got a slap on the face.” In his youth Myjer felt little connection with the rest of his classmates. “I was really different. During the breaks I often went for a walk along the IJssel on my own.” But a sense of loneliness? The comedian doesn’t know that. “I’ve been on tour for 25 years, sleeping in hotels on my own three days a week. I like the solitude.”
Jochem Myjer about his tumor operation
But when a tumor is discovered in his spinal cord in 2011, Jochem Myjer gets the fright of his life. After a risky 13-hour surgery, most of the tumors were removed, but it changed his life forever. The busy person has little energy after his illness. “It just seems like a bad fairy tale,” says the comedian with a laugh. “I am one of the busiest people in the Netherlands and then I undergo an operation that gives me an energy problem. It took me a long time to accept it. I think my energy level is now 50 percent of what it was before.”
However, the difficult period also brought him a lot. “It’s a huge lesson. I never had to think about my energy, but now I do. I live much more consciously. If you can only do one thing a day, you are enjoying that one thing much more. Something I often do is go out into nature on my own. Then I pack a backpack and I’m gone for four days. I don’t feel handicapped there for a while.’
‘You really don’t have to run a marathon to be happy’
Sometimes Jochem Myjer still longs for his old self, but in general he is happier than before. The documentary images from 2019 about his hundredth performance in the Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam only confirm this. “It was not balanced at all. When I watched that documentary, I thought: what are you doing man? You are destroying everything. Then I decided to do everything differently. I did that too. I started playing less and less physically.”
Playing a hundredth show in Carré certainly gave Myjer a kick, but when he started reflecting, the comedian came to an interesting conclusion. “I wondered: is it actually cooler than the first time I was in Theater Pepijn in The Hague? The answer to that is: no.” When he compares the happiness of a good show with taking his children to football on Saturday, he sees little difference in that either. “There is no degree of happiness. I try to find it closer to home. So now I’m not going to hike to Norway for four days, but just to the Veluwe. That’s really beautiful. I keep getting my happiness more and more from the simple things. You really don’t have to run a marathon to be happy: running once is also fun.”
Watch Jochem Myjer’s interview with Coen Verbraak back on NPO.
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Jochem Myjer about the period after his tumor operation: ‘I am happier now than before’