david heti - thoughts

David Heti - thoughts

not to mention the MLK joke

A friend/person of mine who bought one of my t-shirts tells me that people come up to him and say, "how can you support a monster like Woody Allen?" and he says, "easy, he made Zelig."

And I find it funny because the only reason the t-shirt was purchased was because of the nature of the comedy (which is a bit whatever it is) and so the shirt confronts others with these same questions in the course of their daily lives. And the most beautiful thing then is that my friend then responds with the only, and actual/real, response there can be.

The shirt, then, realizes what it is. (That is, it is a shirt. But it is not a shirt.)

(Perhaps he could respond differently.)

my norms or your norms

If you're in my town on a student visa and call the gas "petrol" and step out of the car when in line at the US border simply to stretch, then you do not get to dictate to me your thoughts re rideshare expenditure norms.

You put out into the world an of offer of a $50-return trip down to New York and that's what you received. To raise, so indignantly, via text and post-drop-off, the matter of tolls, is, at the very least, unattractive.

I didn't blare my Eminem at you on repeat 14 for hours.

Don't talk to me about customary social practice.

I don't know

All of my troubles are in my head. Another day of indoors after on-and-off and nothing to show. It's the first writing after some time, too. Several weeks ago was recorded another album, the editing of which will have to come before the packaging. (It feels gross, the prospect of having to listen and watch, nothing coming out the way that, in your head, in had been in your head.)

Did you know know that Adorno once wrote that aesthetic self-relinquishment in the artwork requires not a weak or conformist ego but a forceful one. Only the autonomous self is able to turn critically against itself and break through its illusory imprisonment. This is not conceivable as long as the mimetic element is repressed by a rigid aesthetic superego rather than that the mimetic element disappears into and is maintained in the objectivation of the tension between itself and its antithesis?

Well, did you know that?

Boy, anyway, that's kind of really what basically is the album about. (Not that I came to this excerpt before the recording, sadly. You can bet, though, that there'd be rigid aesthetic superego in the album if I had. Yes, sir. Maybe we can edit it in somehow.)

In other news, determinate negation is knowledge bearing.

to all the girls I've loved before


If you're a producer of a comedy show and you have me on your comedy show and you have me on your comedy show to do comedy then don't dock my fucking pay for not doing the things that I did not do which you never asked me to do (and which are outside the purview of my position/role as comedian/comic).

I am not an advertising machine and if I understood that I was to double as your marketing department then I would not have agreed to do your show. Next time, you tell the jokes on stage.


Nashville, 2016

Text from "The Art of Noise" (1913)

Manifesto of Futuristic Music

Every manifestation of our life is accompanied by noise. The noise, therefore, is familiar to our ear, and has the power to conjure up life itself. Sound, alien to our life, always musical and a thing unto itself, an occasional but unnecessary element, has become to our ears what an overfamiliar face is to our eyes. Noise, however, reaching us in a confused and irregular way from the irregular confusion of our life, never entirely reveals itself to us, and keeps innumerable surprises in reserve.

this is why (I'm friends with) Sean

Sorry to hear you're feeling lousy, my friend. If it helps, I believe we create for two reasons: 1) To sate the (apparently) human compulsion to establish order and meaning in a terrible, heartbreaking and nonsensical universe, and, 2) To pay bills in a way that's a helluva lot less difficult than stacking heavy boxes.


Your discomfort means the world. Truly sitting on one's own, alone, preferable to the having to go, out, to come home, again, alone. The moving about from city to home to home -- a let in Montreal, to a room to a sofa a place to sit, leaves with no one or nothing. Out there are jokes, the jokes which you don't see, or understand, to be at all any more what the people, should be listening to. ("Who goes to listen to jokes?," is the comics' thing.) Nothing of it moves.

no longer on the road

The tour is now over and it's time to get back to sitting in a place all alone and quiet and think/worrying What now? Too much happens (when) on the road for two months and it's hard to retain, but let me tell you that it's easier to move from one place to place to show to high to place than to actually have to make a life of substance. There's a thing or point whereat you're moving so much there's no time for reflection (or perhaps no need, no want?) and it's just kind of diffuse being-there. (Do you know how much easier it is to drink in a motel room alone than it is anywhere else, anywhere else alone, even?) There was one place that was right across the street from a Waffle House and a 24-hour gas station and it was all I needed. There was even a pool (Arizona) and nobody in the pool and nobody in the pool area, even. I only spent one night and a day there, sadly, but the next to place to where I moved on wasn't anything like it, obviously, sadly. (If you are ever on a/the road and need a place to for a quick and friendly and cheap/healthful meal, I cannot more highly recommend Waffle House.)

on the road again -- a tour

Hello hello hello. It is tour time. Please let people know that I/we will be in the following cities. Rachael Goldman is a hilarious comic out of Indiana. We did a show together last year and I thought boy is this funny. Let us have some people come out. For good time. Below is the tour poster. Links to show details here.

the comedians

In November of 2015 I had the pleasure of interviewing writer/comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff while he was on tour for his truly fascinating book, "The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy." Hosted by Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal's amazing little book shop, we were brought up to the stage by Jason Grimmer, who is also great.

This was around the time when VermontPBS was filming a program on myself and the Montreal arts scene, so they ended up recording the entire talk. This is just the raw footage--so perhaps it may not look so great--but, it's uninterrupted, so you get the entire conversation.

The people in the audience had only really good things to say afterwards, so perhaps it is worth a listen, if not look.

late after night

Never before had I ever looked into the crowd after telling the joke. The wholly, completely overtaken man doubled-over in laugher with his dagger-eyed girlfriend (apparent) glaring into him and/in his laughter was incredible, infinitely precious. Never could I have imagined that someone enjoying the joke so much would be loved or accompanied by one who would appear to have so much distaste for the sentiment. (What are they doing together? Why had this not come up earlier? How can two people with such different senses of humour stay together?)

I hope that they truly break up over the night. (Maybe. No.) Something, though, isn't right.

hey good looking

Do you like high comedy fashion? Always wanted to wear on your person my likeness? Need a tote? Go the the merch section. It'll be like you're buying me a couple of drinks, but you'll end up with stuff.

The photo below can be clicked on to click through.

schlemeils of the year and maybe my most unpleasant experience on stage ever

It is with no small amount of pride and glee to announce that I have been named one of The Top Seven Schlemiels of The Year by Schlemiel in Theory. Never have I been happier to be on a list with Larry David.

As Schlemiel in Theory writes: "[Heti's album] shows us how comedy...can lead us back to the unhappy source of all humour" and "[reminds us that] melancholy can be the source of insight and reflection."

Well, I could really not have thought of any better way of introducing the introduction this next clip...

Two nights ago was one of the most maddening and dejecting and dispiriting nights of stand-up I can remember. I am so utterly at the end of my rope with these people who understand themselves to be the arbiters of what can and cannot be said. At one in the morning, in a little tiny comedy attic space, for a show for which they did not at all pay. I simply have no way at all to respond to these people at all civilly. (We will see what happens to civility. 2016) Life imitating art imitating life.

second thoughts

A couple of weeks ago, some people were so outraged by this article that I'd written about comedy and politics and thought and language. They'd just send me nasty emails or tweets, calling me terrible names and not at all dealing with the issues raised.

It was all a bit of a wholly disingenuous engagement, not the least of which for the simple untruths about the reception of the set. "I was there that night," people wrote, "and no one was laughing." (Not that what was at issue was the success of the set.)

All that said, though, it turns out that I had in fact the set recorded. But, then, what was I to do? Simply put out into the world again all the thoughts and the words that were not ok? What of those who would once again have to hear all thoughts and the words that they said were not ok?

Then, though, I thought of a way, though--a compromise, really--to,

i) show that the thoughts and the words were ok,

ii) protect the people who said that the thoughts and the words were not ok from the thoughts and the words that they said were not ok, and

iii) put on display the whole intellectual, moral bankruptcy of the politics of those who laughed at the thoughts and the words that they said were not ok.

Fair warning: if anyone is triggered by Ornette Coleman, David Izenzon or Charles Moffett, you might not want to listen. I know that, when Coleman was first at the Blue Spot, there were fist fights on stage. (He had some crazy music.) But, then, you know how people can be.

Anyway. Me, Portland. And The Ornette Coleman Trio, Sweden, 1965.

wish you were her

I've a little regular writing about life on the road here. A funny thing, being on the Comedy site, I think, given the kinds of tone and feel of the pieces, I think. It's a nice thing, though, being able somehow to turn whatever experiences I'm having anyway into something. (What else does one do with experiences?)

This has just been a terrible week, and the body and mind are failing. Thank god for friends who (will) take you out to dinner.

here's the

This is the grossest day.

Back on the socially mediat/-whoring. Stopped up, all plugged up, back in the city bar back to the post-goings on (the) roads. So much too happened (to)/who cares.

A cripple tried to scam me. A woman, two walkers, crying metaphorically no Wheel Trans. They can't pick you up. Bomb scare school so cancellation. But, a cripple doesn't carry cash? Forty bucks, for a cab fare? You have no cash on you, and you can't walk? Give me a bank card (I said), I will go to the nearest bank, and get you the cash, but, so she said, she had none.

"Asshole," as I walked away. Crossed her along the street even, damp armpit, making my only sweater gross. The cuff.

(Hello, Amy.)

I don't know

I suppose it's just one of those days sitting in the empty kitchen of another comic's place in a residential neighborhood of New Hampshire. There isn't much food here and I've no house key, so I can't really do much but wait for him to come home again. Three English muffins as of about four in the morning from a couch to just now, and then all that's left at this point is a beer. Laundry is going, the second time, the first time not knowing that you'd have to turn on the water, so perhaps there's some staining now, what with the liquid detergent soaked into the clothes, though perhaps that doesn't happen (anymore?), I don't know.

Like one of those days as a kid, away from school and sick or sort-of-sick at home, alone, feeling grosser and grosser as the day goes on, alone, knowing/feeling there's nothing only. Others are working; others are moving along, going places, perhaps; other are in their own spaces, sitting in their own spaces. In a sweater on a hot day, in your only laundry.


Too much/so much seems to happen when moving around like this but then nothing too. In a sound booth, sleeping on the wrong pillow the nights before in Boston, waking up to a washroom better than other washrooms before. Something to share.

Hegel to his bride

Nürnberg, Summer 1811

...I have hurt you with some of the things I said. This pains me. I have hurt you by seeming to condemn as principles of your way of thinking and acting moral views that I must condemn.--About this I now only say to you that on the one hand I condemn these views insofar as they cancel the difference between what the heart likes and duty, or rather eliminate the latter altogether and destroy morality. But just as much--and this is the main point between us--I beg you to believe me that I do not ascribe these views insofar as they have consequence to you, not to your self, but that I look on them as lying only in your reflection without your thinking, knowing, and realizing them with their consequences--that they serve you to excuse others (to justify is something else--for what one can excuse in others one does not therefore consider to be permitted to oneself; but what one can justify is right for all, including ourselves).

Regarding myself and the manner to my explanation, do not forget that when I condemn maxims I lose sight too easily of the manner in which they are actual in the determinate individual--in this case, you--and they stand before my eyes in their generality, in the their consequences and ramifications and applications of which you are not thinking--much less that all these were for you contained in them. Moreover, you know yourself that even though character and the maxims of insight are different, it still is not indifferent what maxims insight and judgment employ. But I know just as well that maxims, when they contradict the character, are still more indifferent in the female than they are in men.

Finally, you know that there are evil men who torment their wives only to have constant visual proof of their behavior, namely their patience and love. I do not believe that I am evil in this way; but if such a dear soul as you are ought never to be hurt, I might almost not regret how I hurt you, for I feel that the deeper insight that I have thus gained into your nature has further increased the intensity and thoroughness of my love. Therefore be comforted also by the realization that whatever in my replies may have been unloving and untender vanishes insofar as I feel and recognize you ever more deeply to be through and through lovable, loving, and full of love.

I must go to class. All the best--dearest, dearest, blessed and fair Marie.

Your Wilhelm


Man, I swear to god, if you tell me three times to show up to your stupid fucking bar show at 8:15, for an 8:30 start, and to post about it, and share about, and tell people about it, and then you show up at eight-fucking-forty-five, for a show which you'd always known the whole entire time wouldn't start before 8:45 (never at 8:45), I don't give a fuck.

Ask me in that tone, feigning and faking caring, "oh, do you have somewhere else to be?" [comic-speak for "do you have another set and have to go up early?"] Yes, I have somewhere else to be. I always have somewhere else to be (other) than waiting for your stupid fucking show to begin, waiting on account of making/having made decisions based on misinformation. Your lying to me or the ethics or permissibility thereof is not conditional on my having another stupid fucking show to go to or not.

[Even in Grade 4--leave the fucking kids behind who didn't show up for the bus on time. They didn't want a Ski Day; they shouldn't get a Ski Day. Every day, every time waiting for the one stupid student, everyone (else) having to wait and be punished for their respecting others. No one learns/has to learn anything in this society (a bit much), no one cares.]

Anyway, if you bitch ("bitch")/complain about it enough (i.e., explain it to him in sufficiently simple language as to why he's being a ******* *****/entirely thoughtless), then you'll/may get to go home early for having been put up first so he doesn't have to deal with the reality of his/the situation. (Calling people on their shit is important, as it makes them feel uncomfortable, and they won't want to feel uncomfortable in future.)

There is so much disrespect. This is one of the ways.

(It does not matter being put up first. It matters nothing. Accepting, and understanding the fault, the wrongness is what counts. Articulating the acceptance and understanding is what counts.)