i is the loneliest letter

Are you feeling lonely? You’re not alone.

*laughs maniacally*

Wow, that’s gallows humour.

I was about to do anything within my power to stop myself from writing this article as I figured it would be career self-harm to advertise potentially stigma-laden, conversationally icky, street-cred sapping factoids such as the inconvenient truth about my present emotional state – but then I remembered I’ve already released the song “ I’m So Lonely ” as The Bedroom Philosopher. Well, when I say released I mean left a CD sitting on a bus shelter in Canberra and slowly tip-toed away with fingers crossed behind my back assuming there would be some miraculous, inevitable groundswell in exponential interest for my niche style of pseudo-earnest comedic folk-rock after some local ANU tastemaker pocketed the diffident second album and rushed home to burn copies for her mates.

In any event, the song pertains to themes of loneliness and doesn’t shy away from naming names and kicking concepts into high gears of truth and revelation – as much as any largely pun-based alt-country song not played to a click-track can.

I think it does an okay job. A fan once wrote it was her favourite as it had “clever lyrics.”
It’s true. It does.

The other memory from the release of this 2008 era song is an unfortunate incident in my sharehouse kitchen. My best mate was crouched down, looking for some plastic bottles for the homebrew ginger beer we were ensconced with. I nudged upon the subject of some of my edgier new material for the forthcoming album Brown & Orange. He did something he was prone to doing every now and then. He ‘called me out’ on my more self-indulgent artistic tendencies. He told it how it was, eye of the tiger / final countdown style, ensuring all terms would be free from any skerrick of uncertainty for the remainder of our days.

“No one cares that you’re lonely.”

To be fair, to my friend’s credit, I’ll now muster every ounce of generosity that my twelve-odd years of distance can afford and extrapolate some context to give you an idea of what he meant by that. I’m compelled to include a sudden thought that he may have actually worded it as “we don’t care that you’re lonely” which isn’t exactly any less harsh.

To him, like several other serious kinda snooty male art friends – The Bedroom Philosopher project was executed by a comedian who happened to play music. To me, it was the other way around. I was a songwriter who took advantage of the fact I could be lyrically amusing, to compensate for any shortcomings in skill while drawing as much attention towards my craft and arming myself with a tractor beam of charisma to win over live audiences in slumped universities and dodgy bar situations.

Please note that when I receorded this song I was still making endearingly naive syntax errors. For example, I actually thought it was ‘euphanism’ for some reason, and committed the error to tape. (If you want to really drill down, I was also corrected for using ‘excrete’ instead of ‘secrete’ on Swan Song when referring to ‘mothers milk’ – in this case the lifegiving fluid my dream partner was producing to nourish our newly sprung swan offspring. as you do. (as you were)


To me, I’m So Lonely was a perfectly good song that did have a bunch of jokes in it already (especially compared to What About Me.) I suppose what threw those closest to me was the eroding line between my in-song persona being serious and (wink-wink) funny. Jeepers, from certain angles a dude could construe I might be l i t e r a l l y trying to convey something quite heavy to the audience – or worse, revealing something deep and personal, trudging along the broken cobbles of thousands of troubadours before me. In this instance it seems I could be interpreted as being in some kind of genuine emotional (*vom*) anguish – the kind that couldn’t possibly be expressed, except via the economical goldrush of three-chords-and-the-troof.

How insipid.

Thing is, it was true. I was doing this. I was writing a song no other musical comedian would go near. Because, well, I wasn’t like any other musical comedians. I wasn’t (in this instance) parodying earnest folk musicians crying woebegotten tales (that would have made more sense and been a bit more above the belt) – no – I was – (for some reason) – genuinely delivering a serious statement, albeit wrapped up in more glib, darkly comic wordplays than I knew what to do with.

The results were, well, at best commendable, on average, confusing and at worst….according to my best friend and comedy partner in crime since we’d bonded at university….kind of…(as far as my interpretation of what his vibe was at the time)…pitiful. Srsly chocoblock with PIT.  

Jus’, Mate. What are ya doing?


“No one cares that you’re lonely.”


By that I’m quite certain he meant: “People only like The Bedroom Philosopher because he’s funny and we come to listen to the jokes and that is what you need to give the people and while it seems that you are trying to circumvent this transactional relationship with an offering of deeply personal, authentic sentiment, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that as a currency it doesn’t really have any value whatsoever compared to the skyrocketing arrow of your predetermined hilarity.”

Gee thanks. I could have gotten that advice from my Nan. How surreal when it comes from those closest to you; fellow edge-meisters and taste balloons with your favourite face drawn on.

The face that sent the stripey shirted indie nerd babes wild in 2007 – the same couldn’t be said for my best mate matt who was all like ‘why so serious?’
As an aside I hung out with Sarah Blasko in 2007 after she sidled up to me at Purple Sneakers – (this was in response to me scuttling up to her and giving her a copy of my album ‘In Bed With my Doona’ backstage at Falls Festival Marion Bay – she was on her way out but was gracious on all fronts. We ended up having a drink and a chat for half an hour and then she went off. I’m glad I didn’t go on about the column I’d written about the big crush I had on her which was published in street press, to which her PR team at the time wrote to say ‘we don’t normally encourage stalking, but we think you’re pretty funny.

This wasn’t the first time we had softly butted heads over my creative philosophy. When my promo photo came out the year before featuring me in a cardigan, western shirt and tie doing a smouldering pout to camera (which I dubbed ‘my best Sarah Blasko impression’) my friend was quietly appalled. ‘How are people going to know you’re a comedy act?’  

You might say my friend was in a conservative place when it came to what my act was. It was funny or it was nothing.

Meanwhile, I was in a psychedelic, experimental, warcraft of wildness, trying to make art that was nothing like my last offering. I wanted my next album to be an over-the-top magical mystery tour. Lots of emotions – angst – self-reflection – trumpets and, well, you know…sitar.

Matt’s ( – oh yeah – there’s his name – and chill out everyone concerned he’s not even the only problematic friend called Matt I had at the time) comment was presented as a piece of constructive criticism about my art. The problem was that as an only child who took most things deeply personally – he had (surely, purposefully, on a subconscious level if not conscious) managed to assemble a verbal fuselage that made it impossible for me to localise it purely as feedback on my songwriting and/or relationship with my audience and not as a general attack on my personality at a most fundamental level that would almost certainly reverberate through several semesters of forthcoming counsellor subroutines.



A shrapnel bomb, delivered like a packed lunch.

There were the ego injuries sustained at the initial point of impact, but, more insidious, was the cryptic, below the radar spread of nano-damage as the loaded sentence slashed its way through the protective shell of my cocoon and nestled its needles amongst the membrane of my supple, unformed wings.



You have the right to remain informed. Any action you choose to make in future of this message shall only reflect directly upon your ability to interpret its core structure as a warning. You present yourself as someone at risk of committing serious damage to your social rapport within the community. Should you continue down this course of wantonly self-aggrandizing, emotionally manipulative time-wasting we will no longer be able to offer you the protection that our goodwill currently affords.
There are very few people who can generate and sustain as much humour as you. To cannibalise this for garden-variety navel-gazing, even if it is presented in a self-knowing or light-hearted way, strikes us as a flagrant violation of the social codes for which much of our affirmation and support for your career is conducted (in the good faith you will abide). How else can we trust that as a performer you have our best interests at heart? How else can we spare you from the wrath of our pass-angst as we try you for the greatest of all Australian blue collar crimes – self pity.

A message from the universal Australian populous to one sole citizen Justin Marcus H


Well, I did what anyone else would in that situation. I took it to heart and quietly stewed for ten years.

I’m kidding – as if for a hyper second I could entertain the notion that any element of this is even remotely transferable. Gadzooks, it seems I had shimmied, crab-walked, tip-toed and side-swiped my way into an absolute evolutionary cross-roads for the artistic and personal development of myself as a whole.

Again.

I was 28. I was Saturn returns.

I was 20 years overdue counselling. I was heavily in debt.

I was unstable. I was growing darker by the month. I was drifting as an artist. I was wobbling as a boyfriend. Crucially, most emasculatingly, it appeared that in the petty court of sharehouse kitchens, I was now tanking as a bloke. Alienating my fellow Aussie larrikins with my sheer-bloody-minded outlook, deference and resolve.

I went on to record I’m So Lonely. (Part of the I’m So quadrilogy: post modern, over girls & hungover). Look it up. Borrow it from Blockbuster on laser disc.

I’m So Lonely gained positive comment among some serious music journalists. It felt like a comforting addition to my newfound repositioning from comedy rooms to music venues. But how the song was received by industry isn’t really the point, is it reader?


The point is…sharp.



A needle – not of the knitting variety.


HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLP HELLO HELLPO HELKLO HELLP HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLP HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLPO HELLO HELL HELLP HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLPO HELLO HELLPO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLP HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELOO HELLOH HLELOP HELOPP HELPO HELOK HELLOO HELOOLE HLOE HELLO HELO HLEOO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HHELLO



I know loneliness. I feel it in the ashes of my past lives.

I can be lonely in a crowd – I can by lonely on my own.


I can be lonely in a relationship.

Now I sound like a cancelled Dr Seuss.

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate based on how well you are doing or how talented you are. Amazingly, neither is it particularly concerned with how many people you have around. (Or is that melancholy? I get them mixed up.)

It’s just, well, there. Along with oxygen and water and sun and reality tv and biscuits and time-stretched songs on youtube. Loneliness isn’t a special occasion. It’s not a pamphlet in the doctors waiting room. It isn’t a capital ‘L.’ word. It isn’t any word. Not one in our language. Loneliness doesn’t get said aloud. It isn’t part of conversation. Loneliness is a secret. One you don’t even know you’re keeping

you’ve been keeping it so long.

So whateth the deal?

I’m lo*ely. So wha? ( l o v e l y )


I was lonely then. I’m lovely now. Most of the time it’s comfortable, enough. An itch you scratch with a kind, furious thought. A beautiful familiar longing, as your child self gazes out to sea – transmitting a conversation with the clouds only an ocean can answer.

Is there a crime being committed? Have I trespassed upon any of your personal freedoms? Will my frank admission contribute to shortcomings in your day?

Have I enormously fucked everything up by not only experiencing this foible but also having the deranged audacity to share it with my social peers? Surely I am not already aware that such unsavoury, ungainly, corrupt and corrupting truth-sabre-rattling should be done only under the close supervision of professionals in a secluded setting.

I n c o n c l u s i o n

Loneliness isn’t a world that gets shared often (enough).

It’s a fantastic, desolate, magical mixed bag of thought coma and silent dance.

It’s not a house built with a door. Only an escape slide and a half-roof to park the occasional rocket ship. But it’s there and it’s real and it’s yours to warm your spine on if you wish to nestle for a second in the curvature of my beanbag.

There’s a loneliness epidemic, you know. It’s interesting to see it on the public agenda along with depression and anxiety. It’s like watching your favourite punk bands sign with major labels and have chart-topping hits. I’m not sure if it’s liberating or alienating. Isn’t it ironic? ZOMBIE ZOMBIE ZOMBIE

FURTHERMORE, NOTWITHSTANDING AND YEAH NAH

Brown & Orange is out now in 2009.

shoutout to ratcat

I’m so glad you could make it

I’m up and about and ready to stop. Stop collaborate and listen, that is.

200928_Vic Mental Health_Justin_025

Photo courtesy of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

There’s news afoot and updates aplenty, providing you haven’t been paying attention – which is okay because I’m on the ball / having a ball (a wrecking ball, that is). Knocking over walls and kicking goals and shifting goal posts and not posting on social media. Are we cool? “Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!.” Here we go (again) for the first time (in a long time).

  • The latest issue of my rebooted mailing list Justin Heazlewood’s Fuzzy Logic.
  • An episode of RNs All In Your Mind podcast which I recently contributed to.
  • I’m an ambassador for Satellite Foundation. They’re an organisation based in VIC who help kids of parents with a mental illness. They’re running a six-week online program for people aged 17-23 (living anywhere in AUS). If you know anyone who might benefit from such connections, there’s info HERESelf-care-alphabet
  • A newly separated, individual, lowly tailored social media page, to dwell the nature of my own intellectual property within.
  • Some quiet reading (about reading) for you.

A dedication to my artist brethren who might be doing it tough at this (or any) time.

Hear the Funemployed EP in its entirety HERE

I am sorry this is happening to you

I’m a writer with anxiety and have been self-isolating for a while. I’ve got a rolling start on this like Daytona. Don’t get me started on performing with no one in the audience.

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Whisper-out to all my mentally ill friends; those with anxiety and depression. The melancholic and broken. Perhaps it’s easier to be calm in a crisis when your entire life has been a crisis. Lean into the rollercoaster, one day at a time.

You are always stronger than you think.

You are always stranger than you think.

A brief history of the Rhythm Of The Night YouTube (as provided by Nate Vic 6 days ago):
“Comments be like:
2000-2013 – wow still an amazing song
2013-2020 – GTA V brought me here
2020 – CORONAVIRUS!!!”

Godspeed. There’s no panic in pandemic. Y’know, in a way it feels like we’ve been here before. Not at least referring to the general sense of ‘end times’ catastrophising. I wrote my first ever Frankie column about it called The World’s Fucked in 2007. For a long time it was the #4 thing people typed into google to find my website.

Go meditate. Folded Hands on JoyPixels 5.5

World Mental Health Day

Every day is World Mental Health Day at my house. Take heart everyone. You are always stronger than you think. People aren’t thinking mean things about you. That’s just you being too hard on yourself. : )

Colour wheel

Aimee Mann released an album last year called ‘Mental Illness’ – the best name check since ‘Thank God For Mental Illness’ by The Brian JonesTown Massacre. This is a great song with a lot of cat in it.

Do check out the latest post about Schizophrenia Awareness Week.

Why Comedians Get Depressed (from Overland)

‘Why are comedians depressed?’ It’s one of those age old paradoxes like ‘why are contact jugglers so creepy?’ I’ve been one for ten years (a comedian, that is: not a creepy juggler) and I’ve frequently pondered the equation.

Does it work the other way around? Are funeral directors the life of the party? Nick Cave seems pretty chipper in interviews. Jokes aside, there is a serious side to looking on the lighter side of life, which has been brought into the spotlight by the recent suicide of beloved comic actor Robin Williams. Like many comedians, Williams dealt with dark themes. It’s little surprise that his mental workplace was an occupational health and safety nightmare.

The distance between the onstage and the backstage persona is even more confronting when it’s a successful artist such as Williams. As a sharehousehold name performing as The Bedroom Philosopher, I can attest. Given the nature of my family history, my personality and ‘put all your eggs in one basket and break a few to make an omelette’ approach to creativity, I’m genuinely surprised when I’m happy.

Stand-up comedy is where sport meets service industry – it can be as draining as it is rewarding, and for a moody person, it’s consistently destabilising. Anxious highs dip into soul-crunching lows. The mood swing is the main attraction in the devil’s fun park.

These are the reasons why comedians often appear down. They are drawn from monitoring my own mental health over the years and somewhat coded debriefs with fellow cacktitioners. (Right click – ‘add to dictionary’)

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1. The nature of the job

Comedy equals tragedy plus time multiplied by anxiety squared. This anxiety may begin a week before the gig. That’s up to one hundred hours of nerve-tingling, bowel-clenching, stomach-sinking, dream-curdling, hope-dismantling worry before you even get to the venue. Then it triples. As your name is introduced by someone claiming to ‘love your work’, your body releases a civil war’s worth of survival adrenalin, your veins light up like a Christmas tree, and you stand beneath the glare of the headlights like a talking rabbit pulled out of your own sorting hat. Your soul is graded on the spot via laughter, or the lack of it. This crude survey information is stamped into you for life as you experience a terrifying emotional comedown: depleted natural chemicals quickly replaced by ‘electroheavies’ from the friendly barkeep.

2. The nature of the craft.

Comedians are miners. They must go inside the cave of human folly and swing a pick axe of anger at the iron walls until a hunk of coal comes loose. They must take the lump and flambé it in their imagination furnace, overthinking it until it becomes electricity. This is the satirical sizzle that finds its way on stage, powering the high-beam smiles of an audience. Coal mining is dirty, dangerous work. Most people sealed off their tunnels years ago, and wouldn’t enter it if paid. Comedians spend their lifetime in the darkness of emotional solitude. It gets lonely and it gets bleak.

3. Fitting the cliché

People expect comedians to be funny in real life. Surely to God they’ll be cracking gags on the tram, right? Aren’t comedians responsible for the crime rate at airports, their wits deemed too pointy to take onboard the craft? No. Instead, most comics I know are reserved and nervous, their personalities muzzled by a lifelong obligation to be abnormally hilarious. (With great power comes great responsibility). This social pressure, real or perceived, can be marvellously tiring. The expectation is downright illogical – and somewhat disrespectful of these professional speakers. If you were at a dinner party with a clairvoyant and she started reading your future – ‘you’re going to choke on a fish bone’ – you’d be creeped out. One can imagine the clairvoyant would say A) sorry folks, I’m off hours, and B) you want me to read your palm? I see you reaching for your purse, dude.

4. No fallback emotion

There is a theory that comedians have it tough because, unlike other artists who fall on shit times, they don’t have their sense of humour to rely on. A sense of humour is their main tool of trade. It’s like Kate Miller Heidke trying to sing herself to sleep after a show instead of watching Game Of Thrones. Unlike a theatre troupe, who can drink and laugh together after a bad show, a touring comedian will sit alone in the padded cell of their hotel room. They may take a drag on their humour to find the charred, singed remains of coal dust. If you’re not laughing, you’re crying.

5. You don’t have to be crazy to work here …

Comedians are mad. Anyone who would actively choose this career path, to willingly undergo the mild emotional torture of running the validation gauntlet of live performance must be deeply imbalanced in some way. Perhaps it’s not that comedy makes comics depressed, it’s that they do comedy because they are a mess already. Most comedians report being picked on at school. Their sharpened wit was a mechanism built for survival. While this sword is attractive and effective, behind the armour is often a pale, vulnerable nerd still trapped in the perpetual self-loathing and rejection of their teenage self. Relationship anyone?

6. Success doesn’t buy happiness

We all know money doesn’t buy emotional prosperity. By the same token neither does career affluence. In a truly sinister twist, for the neurotic weirdo described above, being lauded and loved only feeds the mould of low self-esteem. Deep down, most comedians will casually hate themselves and rarely feel comfortable in the yellow jacket of their stage win at the Tour De Farce. This guilty paradox is doused with a cold-fusion pressure to perform, creating a peace-sapping spiritual hamster wheel of micro-angst that would leave anyone as ashen faced and hollow eyed as Robin Williams’ recent press shots.

7. Self-medication

Comedians might make great clown doctors for sick children in hospital but, by golly, those clowns shouldn’t be operating on themselves. Most performers will try and counter the gross emotional rollercoaster by applying lashings of ale, nicotine, pot, coke and whatever else is cool. (Smack kind of died out in the 80s). You now have someone prone to depression treating their on-stage high with a stimulant washed down with a depressant. This is akin to giving yourself a hug then slapping yourself in the face (which is only okay if you’re Frank Woodley doing a bit.) If the comedian did a dodgy show (which is a 50/50 probability, at all levels), they will be left with a steaming pile of sorrow to absorb. Drugs are a snooze button for emotional processing, and when they wear off, the steaming pile is still there – only now stale. Breakfast of champions – and then it’s back down the coal mine!
Actors are narcissistic.

Writers are arrogant. Puppeteers are … different. The clichés are all there. The sad clown image has been around for years. One of the most pertinent issues to be raised by the death of Robin Williams is an understanding and awareness of mental illness. My personal mantra is ‘better out than in.’ It’s a subject matter that cannot be discussed enough. Hopefully more comedians are encouraged to Come Out of the mine and talk about their experiences. Goodness knows: if handled correctly, they are the perfect ambassadors for depression, making this ghastly topic not only palatable but even – god forbid! – joyous.

2021 AMENDMENT: Robin Williams was not depressed when he took his own life. He was actually suffering from Lewy Body Dementia which is a disease explained in the recent documentary ‘Robin’s Wish.’ There is an article on the matter by his wife HERE.