"I'm going to ask you all to please hold your laughter to the end," David Heti says near the top of his first special. "Because yes, while in one respect each joke does exist unto itself in its own particularity, on another deeper level they all comprise a greater whole. And you're not capable of appreciating what's truly hilarious about any particular bit until we've gotten to the end and you've got the context."
Heti is a bright young comic who hails from Toronto but was, until recently, living and working in New York. His act is a rare, endearing blend of stand-up and stand-off, where he seemingly has no interest in straightforward, easy-to-swallow material or pandering to an audience. Instead, he often confronts them with outlandishly harsh and thought-provoking anecdotes that possess a surreal warmth, though Heti himself keeps his distance, moving from one philosophical observation to the next.
He discusses his family life, suggesting it was a hard go and that, as a young man, he couldn't sleep for fear of his life unfolding. He describes his father as terribly violent: "What happens when we die?" he reportedly asked his mother in the midst of some existential quandary that a little boy might have. "Daddy goes to jail," she tells him.
He suggests that God might have died choking on four dicks, he peppers his set with super dark jokes about gender, sex, pregnancy, and at one point, seems to advocate pedophilia in certain cases. It's all so bleakly nihilistic, but its shock value is measured by the sense that Heti is not really as cruel as he seems. He's a subtle absurdist, the 21st century heir to Woody Allen's vaguely treacherous misdirection techniques as a stand-up and, at least initially in his career, a guerilla filmmaker.
With its false superiority and nefarious pacing, It was ok, works on the highest level. It tests and rewards its audience and is an auspicious debut for David Heti. (Independent)