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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Of the one Chicago comic I was most curious to meet, I asked another outside of a show one night, "do you think he might be at one of the clubs tonight?"
"Haha," he said, "no, no. ******* doesn't get up to get up at the clubs much too much. He's too divisive a comic; he offends too many people. He's not really what you want to put up on your stage if you're trying to sell food and drinks and stuff."
"Hahaha...right, right...yeah. So, then, where do you think I might find him?"
"Well, probably over at ******, this bar, where his girlfriend works. Whenever he's not doing a show, he's usually there, drinking."
"Haha, yeah, right." Obviously.
* * *
Meanwhile, over at the Internet, academic and social critic Camiille Paglia writes or speaks,
"I think Stewarts's show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark. Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me--she's one of my major role models. It's the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that's my standard--a comedy of personal risk. And by that standard, I'm sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He's certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse. I find nothing incisive in his work. As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he's partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States."
* * *
Post-script, I found him coming in for a drink at one of the clubs at the end of the night, just for a drink with friends. It was a really pleasant, easy, friendly meeting.
In October I'll be in New Orleans for the Hell Yes Fest!, and so I'm putting together shows on the way down there. If you know of any good venues or people/comics or places to stay in the following cities, please feel free to get in touch, at email@example.com. I'll be putting in the work for bookings, certainly, but I thought this could only be a mutually beneficial thing (you like comedy, I like comedy). This should be a good, exhausting time. xo
Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Shreveport, Alexandria, New Orleans, Mobile, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Savannah, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Baltimore.
Oh, man. Getting to talk about comedy theory and lines and the problems with politically correctors etc. on the CBC was wild. [The CBC, for those who don't know (Canada), is our/Canada's national broadcaster.] Most hilariously and significantly, on so many (every) other occasion the CBC turned down whatever opportunity to air my stand-up or me as-comic. Who knows for what reasons why exactly in the past they'd decided to/not to, but, it should be fair to say, it was, on at least some account, on account of the very kind of comedic nature (which was) the reason for (having) this conversion.
It makes sense.
(I suppose it is really a very different thing to be talking about comedy than to be performing it, but, this is still all quite lovely, if differently. This is what grandmas watch and listen to. This is what little old ladies in wall-papered paisley Prairies etc. kitchens and etc.) (Nothing wrong with little old ladies or grandmas.)
Hi one thing which it is which I often always/almost fail to do is anything with the sets which I record for myself for the purposes, ostensibly, of returning to, and learning from, them. Below, though, is a transcription of a set from maybe a few months ago from a Montreal room, Ladies & Gentlemen, which you maybe ought to consider/check out when in Montreal it is weekly.
It's in these little rooms where most comedy is. It's where comedy lives. Not at the festivals or tv or things like that. ('Give me your best (best) five/seven/fifteen.')
LADIES & GENTLEMEN
I don’t know, I’m not really one of those, like, I’m not the kind of person who, when I meet others, I see the colour of their skin. and so it’s uh, really that, uh, all the more distressing, that I’ve never, uh, liked a black person I’ve met [laugher]
- - -
no, 'cause, you know, you get/meet all these people, you know, First Nations and African-American groups crying out, like, cultural appropriation, but then when you look at, like, Horkheimer, and Benjamin and Adorno…like, the…Jews invented critical theory, you know? [laughter] // if you can’t file, like a civil suit on your own…then [laughter]…I don’t know, like, what if I’m getting off, like what if I’m like enjoying some Nina Simone number, or something. then uh, because, like—is that wrong?, like, who, who’s, to whom—to which demographic belongs, sort of like, you know, the culture of—like, slave culture [laughter]—anyway, the problem is that race is a social construct, not a comedic one
- - -
really the problem is that oftentimes a comic comes on and tries new material and it doesn’t work, and they’re a bad comic but when I don’t get it just right I’m like a terrible human being [laughter]
- - -
no, what’s really difficult is that comics are, more often than not, rewarded for, our efforts not with money, but with booze. and, part of me can see the logic, like, you know, as joke tellers, we sort of, we sort of provide you with this distraction from, like, you know, a world, too difficult to, to face…and so then we get, some, uh, some sort of intoxicant, to anesthetize, uh, you know—to dull our minds, which actually is what at the root of creating these ideas and from which you take such pleasure from [laughter]…so, uhm…at the same time though...if you gave us some fucking money, and we we, you know, we wouldn’t be forced to, like, you know, barter our drink tickets with audience members every now and then, you know, to take a bus home [laughter], the humour wouldn’t be so fucking dark. I don’t know…
- - -
I mean the thing is—I don’t know, it’s always—it’s always weird/when performing for different kinds of audiences, like um, you know, you get, like, I was performing before like, uh, an all, all-lesbian room, and I got all this flak, and I was like “really?, like, even according to, like—I don’t know, what, like, third-wave…post-…structural, you know, theory—there’s no fixed meaning and gender, identity it’s all relative, like to you like…I’m a white, heterosexual male, but to a-nother room I’m like some fag kike Jew, you know? [laughter] so like where’s the anger coming from? [laughter] have a little self-awareness, you know?
- - -
‘cause I think comics basically are just totally amoral. you know?, like, what do I, what do I do? I…tell jokes, and I fuck, and I swim, and I drink and I have coffee. and that’s a life, you know?, there’s no greater—I care for jokes basically. and like, I don’t know, like, and things—like, this whole issue of consent, really…is very straight forward. uh, but I think what’s most sort of, alluring, is, like, sleeping with like minors, uhm [laugher], because then at least, like—legally, speaking—the consent doesn’t…doesn’t exist—there’s no possibility, you know, you are, you are without [lost word!]
- - -
I don’t know I didn’t choose this life more than you chose yours—you know, I didn’t choose anything, you know—what I’m into and how, and so, what am I supposed to, like, do away with, with like the privileges that I have?, like, is that the best way of being respectful? no, so, when I tell, like, my, you know, able-ist..racist and misogynistic jokes, that’s really…the eth-ical joke, it’s my way of sort of giving back to the universe or god [laughter], or whatever you want to call it, and embracing, you know, like the life—you, you you would want to tell the jokes that you could tell [laugher]. anyway…
- - -
I’m going to say one last thing. what I really don’t like about the homeless [laughter]. is when—is when they extend to me their hand [laugher], in the expectation of my, like, my taking it and my shaking it, as of like, some sort of sign of our shared membership in the community [laughter], because like I’m ok with—like, like they’re people, you know, down on their luck, whatever—but if you can’t recognize that, as someone who’s not homeless, I don’t want…to touch the filthy hand of a homeless person [laughter]…anyway, thanks very much that’s my time
It's maybe a bit stupid to have the respect of one whom you respect so early, because then what the hell's the point of the rest of it, no? (To enjoy oneself?) At least if you're working and scrounging around for your food and clothing and shelter then there's some sort of necessity to the whole thing, but, if there's then maybe not really anything else, then what's the point?
Recognition/confirmation of or by one whom you see as amongst the least insane that you too are similarly not insane, and that you're confirmed in your understanding and sense of comedic self, then for what else is there ever then to be striving? Doug Stanhope says some very nice things, below, at around 48 minutes in. All of his podcasts are here. If you've never before heard his stand-up, you ought to.
Well, sometimes my sister comes over to visit me and decides once again that we're doing something or it'd be fun (for her or me too) to do something. All through the ages like this.
Schopenhauer's magnum opus, the original one-volume edition of The World as Will and Representation, had fallen stillborn from the press in 1819, without attracting any attention. On the last day of that year he applied to the philosophical faculty at Berlin and asked to be included in the next catalogue (Vorlesungsverzeichnis), with a course of six lecture hours weekly on "the whole of philosophy"--and that before he had fulfilled the usual requirements for habilitation. He left it to the faculty to fix the time, but added: "the most suitable time is presumably whenever Herr Prof. Hegel gives his biggest course [sein Hauptcollegium]."
The dean, while specifically commenting on Schopenhauer's "no mean presumption and extraordinary vanity" favoured approval of the request, provided the requirements were fulfilled before he actually began to lecture. Hegel went along with this; other professors did not. One protested against inclusion of the announcement in the catalogue before the requirements were fulfilled, while another wrote: "I confess that the exceptionally great arrogance of Herr S. does not incline me very much to declare myself in favour of any special exceptions on his behalf by action of the faculty"--and several others subscribed to that.
Nevertheless, the government representative looked favourably on Schopenhauer's request, the dean so informed Schopenhauer, and the young man came to Berlin to confer with Hegel on the title of his test lecture (Probevorlesung). March 18, 1820, he wrote the dean that he had asked Hegel the day before for permission to lecture on a subject he himself had chosen, namely on four kinds of causes. "Herr Prof. Hegel very graciously granted his approval with the greatest readiness...."
It is indeed "unmistakable that Hegel placed no obstacles of any kind Schopenhauer's way." as Hoffmeister puts it. He also says: "In the whole decade from 1820 to 1831 we do not find anything more miserable regarding the lecturing by Privatdozenten of philosophy than the total of Schopenhauer." He never completed a course. After his initial approach, he was absent from Berlin for many years, then in the spring of 1826 asked permission to lecture again. He again chose the time when Hegel lectured, but not a single student showed up to hear him. The next semester he did not lecture because only one student came; after that, because only three appeared; after that, because only two came. The next three times--the topic always being the same "Foundations of Philosophy, comprehending Dianology and Logic"--nobody came; in the summer of 1830, three students; the following winter again nobody; and then Schopenhauer left again. Later he published a famous diatribe against "University Philosophy," and again and again poured out venom against Hegel in bitter polemics.
-Hegel: A Reinterpretation, Walter Kaufmann
Please accept this invitation to what should be something of a way to bring in the New Year or just enjoy yourselves on an evening just like any other.
On January 1st, around maybe sometime before it gets far too late, stand-up comic David Heti* will be recording an album of stand-up comedy at his, and possibly your, beloved Grumpy’s. David and Ram, though maybe more David most likely, would absolutely love for you to be there. A warm, intimate, possibly enjoyable and even hilarious night is envisioned.
Ram has been kind and incredibly generous enough to open up the bar and then close and lock the door behind you, making it a speakeasy thereby, so please note that this is an invitation to you—special you—you alone, and possibly someone you’re sleeping with. That said, though, of course, there’ll be indoor smoking and drinking (“I won’t be open to the public, but I’ll still sling hooch,” Ram really wanted me to include), so that’s something. Also, there should be only good/better people present.
Please note that the doors will be open for only a half-hour—7:00 to 7:30—after which time laughter and thoughts, etc. until the doors open again.
Also, importantly, please do be so kind as to let us know whether you intend to come. (Obviously, it’s January 1st.) The idea is to plan an ideal album-recording environment, and then let it all go to shit from there.
It should be a hell of a good time. No one else will know.
David and Ram
January 1st, 2014
7:30 to 9:00
*David Heti is a stand-up comic who floats around between different, truly important cities telling jokes that many people enjoy very much. Ram knows what you like.