“It was ok” is a self-produced stand-up special, originally released independently by David Heti, and now available through Stand Up! Records. It is available as an audio recording and also with video; the special was filmed in front of a live audience at Grumpy’s here in Montreal, that fact alone makes me counsel you to buy it. It is also quite funny.
Heti studied law and philosophy at McGill in Montreal, and simultaneously began his stand-up career. After graduating he went on to work for the Department of Justice Canada, where he was eventually forced to choose between law and comedy, since it is apparently un-ethical to do both. On his website he lists reviews he has received thus far from various publications for his stand-up work; he includes a memo from the Department of Justice Canada outlining their concerns that his stand-up "fails to meet the values and ethics code for the public service."
Of course, David Heti's humour might be more extreme than most. He is often called a dark comic, however I think it is more accurate to describe him as a somewhat heartless comic. His jokes are very intellectual. They are smart, well crafted, and often hilarious, but it is primarily a comedy of ideas, not of heart or feeling. Not that I am trying to discourage you from watching. Quite the contrary, I think everyone could do with a little Heti in their lives, if only to see how they react. His is the kind of comedy that will have you releasing deep, guttural, belly laughs at a joke that you feel you maybe shouldn't be laughing at, only later to find yourself horrified at a punchline that you may find genuinely mean.
David Heti reminds me of a trickster character in Indigenous mythology, such as Raven from West Coast traditions, Nanabush from Anishinabe stories, or the left handed twin from the Haudenosaunee creation myth. These societies recognized that we need people to 'cross the line', so that we can be more aware of where the line actually is. Some stories exist to teach us what not to do, or what not to say. At one point in the show, Heti states “unfortunately, this is the persona with which I am forced to continue”; it is an important line to keep in mind when watching David Heti. He is not the kind of comic who is trying to 'be himself' or share his life's wisdom. These are simply jokes, and David Heti is willing to go wherever he has to, if he thinks he will get a laugh. He quite often does.
His is a great special to watch either by yourself at the end of a bad day that made you hate everyone, or with a group of old friends, people with whom one is comfortable admitting that there is a little bit of a bad person deep inside of all of us.
It was ok, an album of comedy by David Heti
$9.99 available through Stand Up! Records, on iTunes and Amazon
David Heti will also be teaching a comedy writing course at McGill University called “Comedy Writing: Are You Joking?” from June 8th-July 16th
--Sarah Stupar hosts Best Of The West every Wednesday at 9 AM, only on CJLO 1690AM follow Sarah on Twitter @somegirl514