Local Current Blog

The Wits of Dessa: The Doomtree deadpan’s ten best quips

Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR

Anyone could tell you Dessa knows serious—but anyone who’s seen her live, or listened carefully to her lyrics, or read her poetry, knows how funny she can also be. Her lyrics, writings, and casual remarks are dense with a unique, clever, and somewhat melancholy brand of wit.

“I do like the idea of incorporating humor into deep material,” Dessa told Common Good Books. “I think we get affected by hyper-delicate treatments of the profound subjects of our lives, and I’m interested in knowing if deep poetry can be hilarious—actually hilarious, not smirking-while-drinking-martinis hilarious.”

On December 19, Dessa will be joining actor and comedian Jason Ritter on Wits. “We’ll be performing originals, a new cover and I’ll be panicking on the inside about my battle of the minds with Jason Ritter,” Dessa posted on Facebook.

Here are a select few snippets of Dessa’s wit.


“Without me, how would my headache get around?”

(“My New Purpose,” Spiral Bound)


“Eat prey, love.”

(Twitter)


How long were you actually away from your gear?”

“How long does it take to order mozzarella sticks?”

(Local Current interview)


“What happens in Vegas stays in the back of your mind as a looming artifact of your true character.”

(Twitter)


“Life is also, incidentally, the only good distraction from my impending death.”

(“A Little Note on All of It,” Spiral Bound)


“Christians say abstinence, the only sure way/ but I have to wonder what Mary would say”

(unreleased song)


“I’m not a writer, I just drink a lot about it.”

(“Mineshaft,” False Hopes)


“Even alone, consensus can be hard to reach.”

(Twitter)


“I’m out of love, luck, money, my league and ideas, and I’m in debt, doubt, trouble, a case of light beers.”

(“A Soft Place to Fall,” False Hopes: Warped Tour)


“Pray for rain but brace for whiskey.”

(“Warsaw,” Parts of Speech)


Luke Muyskens attends St. John’s University. He previously wrote for aboveGround Magazine and UGSMAG.

  • Josh

    “We forgive and forget and give in to attraction/ this whole thing depends on amnesia and magnets” – “Matches to Paper Dolls” _A Badly Broken Code_

    Can’t wait to hear her on Wits!

  • theunfinishedthought

    pretty much anything she says is poetic, I always am partial to the first time I heard her on P.O.S:

    [Dessa:]

    It seems we’ve fallen out of favor, the era ended on us

    Now the money’s just paper, the houses all haunted

    We had a hell of a run before it caught up

    For all the corners cut we got an avalanche of sawdust

    Life of the party, we’re death of the novel

    The glass is half-empty so pass the next bottle

    It’s flight of the salesman, death of the bumblebee

    Nothing left for the attorneys and the tumbleweeds

    They say that God’s on the right, so goes the rhetoric

    But I think that cross is a kite that left a skeleton

    And I think that Russell was right, but that’s irrelevant, friend

    For all I know there’ll be nothing left to defend tomorrow

    Sugar in the gas tank, nothing in the cashbox

    Thought that we were so sick, looking like it’s smallpox

    The bullets are still on the shelves

    But when the armory empties, we’re melting down the bells

  • Grace Z

    Dessa always blows me away with her wit!

  • doodle02

    She writes the way only someone who has studied a bunch of philosophy can. I love it.