Quote Of The Day: Brooklyn Heights Is ‘The Most Uninspiring Place To Live’

Comedian & actor Reggie Watts, who released Comedy Central special “Reggie Watts: A Live At Central Park,” earlier this month and appears in an IFC talk show this summer, was interviewed Friday by website College Times and had plenty to say about his former residential neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.

The uber-hipster, who now resides in Williamsburg, mouths off by describing the neighborhood as “upper-middle class, a few white rich people and their ethnic nannies taking care of their white babies. If you’re an artist, it’s the most uninspiring place to live.”


Ready or not…

I use to live in Brooklyn Heights, and it was mainly just brownstones with kind of upper-middle class, a few white rich people and their ethnic nannies taking care of their white babies. There’s a lot of strollers going up and down the street with all these women that are obviously not the mothers of these children just walking around.

And then some kind of boring college students going to whatever university is there. It’s the most uninspiring place to live. If you’re an artist, never live in a family community, unless you draw inspiration from children and nannies. It’s just horrible.

Watts’ current locale of Williamsburg, on the other hand, gets this stream-of-consciousness review:

Even though there are a bunch of partiers, there are really great artists amongst all those people. And it has great stores and shops and restaurants and a cool Promenade. It’s really a fun, happy area. Kind of the best area to live in.

It gets ragged on a lot, though. Yeah, which is good. The good thing is that it makes other people [too] annoyed to live here. The less people move here the better. Now we’re starting to see outside of coffee shops, like, six strollers. It’s either the hipsters that live here are getting older and having kids or the kids are moving to Williamsburg. I like kids, but kids kind of bum me out. It’s fine. I mean, people need to have kids. It’s just, like, you kind of go, ‘Aww, where are the adults having fun?’ Instead they’re running around asking, ‘Do you need some milk now?’ I love that they’re trying to still stay cool, you know. The parents will get their babies CBGB shirts.

Perhaps it’s best that the dude has found his solace outside of the Heights, huh?

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  • Quinn Raymond

    For someone who doesn’t like kids he’s got some growing up to do.

  • Knight

    It sounds offensive at first, but in the end I totally agree with him. Our Heights is, in his words, “a family community.” Perhaps it’s not Mr. Watts’ ideal, but I have no problem with our neighborhood being called a family community.

  • Don Julio

    The guy is a talentless loser to begin with – who cares what he says

  • TeddyNYC

    A lot of families live in Williamsburg as well, with more moving in each year.

  • Reggie Watts

    I really did give Hicks a try. Loved Siggy’s, the promenade, the architecture and the cinema but it just had no stimulus for the things I needed to create. No late night culture. Which is all fine for families but bad choice for me. My roommate convinced it was the place to be and in the end we had to move.

    I’ll not argue with the comment of me being a loser and talentless(I agree) but every performance artist I know who has lived there while young has made the same comments.

    It is a quiet family community with a very high percentage of nannies but that’s fine that’s what it is. And it will change as all neighborhoods in Brooklyn do over time. As will I.

  • Quinn Raymond

    Also “If you’re an artist, it’s the most uninspiring place to live,” is kind of a comical line if you know anything about the creative history of the neighborhood.

  • Reggie Watts

    Well at the time I was living there 6 years ago it was not inspiring.

    Most neighborhoods have their creative moments in history.

    Tell me about its artistic past I’d love to know!

  • Acenate

    This is very silly. I understand that this is a Brooklyn Heights blog and all but to cherry-pick some harmless comments from an artist’s interview just to take offense to them on behalf of some amorphous concept of a neighborhood hardly seems like a good use of anyone’s time. And from an interview that would never have been on anyone’s radar had you not had a Google Alert set up for “Brooklyn Heights” no less – we’re not talking about the Daily News, here.

    To resort to ad hominem attacks (the scare quotes around “artist,” the dismissive “stream-of-consciousness” which is ridiculous considering [a] the fact that this was an interview, not a prepared statement or written piece and [b] the very nature of much of his stagework) is childish. Doesn’t make the Heights very conducive or inspirational when “the community” takes offense to the minorest of minor transgressions.

  • ABC

    “The parents will get their babies CBGB shirts.”

    this is the hipster dad cliche circa 1999 and seen these days on something like a CBS sitcom. and this guy thinks it’s cool? hmmm. he sounds very cutting edge.

    and wait — did he just move to a place called Williamsburg? I gotta check that out!

  • lori

    Quinn – creative “history” of the neighborhood is exactly right. That was when you could get a cheap place to stay and be a struggling artist. The Heights is different now – families, generic students living in dormitory housing and newcomers who live in a place like the old Standish for up to a year til they get the feel of the city and decide where to locate.

  • AEB

    But tell us ow you REALLY feel about the Heights, jwbillings. In any case, I don’t think one needs to be defensive about Mr. Watts POV….

  • Mark

    I agree the Heights is boring, but that is not a bad thing. I moved from Manhattan just for that reason, to have a place that is more peaceful. It is a rich white family oriented neighborhood, and that is fine. If I like I can walk over the bridge and be in manhattan in 10 minutes, or bike and be just about anywhere is 30 minutes. I chose to live where it is quiet, and when I want can go play in the more interesting neighborhood. If you are not looking for a fight it is easy to see where Reggie “the most awesome hair” Watts is coming from.

  • Slide

    I agree with Mark. I don’t necessarly live in a neighborhood to be inspired. I live in a neighborhood for peace and relaxation. The beautiful historic street brimming with its wonderful architecture does that for me. And the great thing is that I am but a short subway ride away from all that this great city has to offer if I am looking for inspiration.

    Then again I am not an artist and I can understand why Mr. Watts would prefer a neighborhood like Williamsburg which certainly has its share of artists mixed in with the many self-absorbed, pretentious narcissistic hipsters that also seem to abound.

    So,we lose one comedian, Reggie Watts, and we gain one comedian, Jerry Brooks. Seems like a wash.

  • Slide

    Why am I not upset that someone like jwbillings will be leaving the Heights? Need any help packing? Adios MF.

  • Sal Manilla

    He is right, the babies and strollers are annoying. All the nannies walking around look like zombies.

  • north heights res

    Why would anyone be offended by this person’s comments? I’ve lived here since 1998 and while I’ve loved it for many things–beauty, convenience, friendliness, community feeling–exciting and inspirational, not so much, which is just fine. Who could blame the guy? Neighborhoods that could serve as exemplars of privilege aren’t generally known for inspiring great art.

    And let’s not forgive that in the not-too-distant past, the NY Times described Brooklyn Heights as “affluent without a trace of hipness.” Check.

  • north heights res

    Also: kudos to Mr. Watts for checking in here and responding without taking umbrage at the cheap shots gratuitously taken at him here, including the one in Mr. Taylor’s lede.

  • Hortense

    Reggie –

    I am a big Comedy Bang Bang fan. Love your work.

    I am an uninspired, boring corporate heights resident and even I completely agree with your point.

    BH’s is what it is – beautiful, great location, and quiet but active. We have no good restaurants or shopping, but for a handful of places, on Montague.

    It’s changing – DUMBO and Atlantic Ave are close and blossoming with culture.

    Also – this nanny business is an observation that needs to be made more of. Why does it make sense that people delegate their raising of their kids to the developing world. That’s how our iPads are made. No wonder kids have so many problems

    How is that a single person from a vastly different background makes sense to raise your kid vs. a healthy, well trained and certified daycare. When did daycare become only for the poor and lower middle class?

    See you Reggie-

  • Willowtowncop

    Whenever I go to Williamsburg the first thing I think is look at all these silly marshmallows who look exactly the same. They have the same wired haircuts, the same skinny jeans, and the same ironic tshirts that they bought at Beacon’s Closet, they are eating pickled lambs tounge for dinner and discussing how artistic and interesting they think they are. I’m not saying that this neighborhood isn’t what he says it is, but to point out ground zero of hipsterdom as an example of a diverse and inspiring community makes people less inclined to believe the rest of your argument.

  • travy

    last time i went to w-burgh all i saw was white kids with money. time to move to bed stuy, bro..

    i’m a formerly youngish creative and i’m inspired by the heights tranquility and it’s perch on the edge of the world where you can see everything from just far enough away to not get too much shit on your shoes. ymmv..

  • monty

    I’m a stroller pushing dad and I totally understand what Mr Watts is talking about. When we moved here, we consciously chose comfort over excitement. Our kids love it and so do we. His comments are much more benign than most of the childless people who comment on this blog. At least he knew it was he who was out of place and not the hundreds of families who are inconveniencing the few singles.

  • Hicks on Hicks

    Would it be more or less racist for white families to hire white nannies? Seems like if you’re light skinned in this country you will be accused of racism regardless. It’s like the white’s version of original sin.

  • Elmer Fudd

    I feel so sorry for all the Dorito placated stroller babies that one sees every weekday. That a life – strapped in a stroller and munching sweet/salty snacks all day, while nanny rants on a cell phone.

  • Peter

    I no more want “excitement” where I live, than I want “excitement” during a surgical operation.

    If you want “excitement”, go ride Space Mountain.

  • Juliet

    the fact that Chuck Taylor needed to refer to Reggie Watts as a comedic “talent” (sic) says it all. No one would argue that Brooklyn Heights is beautiful, but it is rather precious. And hey, defensive much? No need to address whether Watts is talented or not. His comments on the Heights were his experience, and it seems more than a few of us agree that it is, well, uninspiring. (I’ve never found bitter and defensive all that inspiring either.) Every Montague needs a Capulet. Keeps things moving. Come back, Reggie Watts, and inspire us. I’ll meet you at the balcony.

  • Reggie Watts

    Many great points made here. I like discussing it. Concerning Williamsburg, it was perfectly described a few comments ago and I agree with the general assessment. The idea of the hipster is a funny one as I tend to think hipsters should be referred to as bohemians.
    There are a great many posers and annoying beautiful and strange types who are not totally engaged with kindness or reality and yes Williamsburg has been a cliche for quite sometime but I like living there because I have many hold out older artist friends of different mediums who are still holding down the fort from way back in its grungier dangerous days. I am addicted to living 3 blocks from the L a cross-town train which for me is only one stop into Manhatten. It is definitely loud but since I am a night owl and enjoy listening to music etc it works for me. My neighbors are mostly young and a few of them are dancers, musicians restaurant and cafe owners so noise is never an issue. Also I live in a newer building that is well soundproofed.
    The interesting thing with the general populous of Williamsburg is that once you live there, engage long enough artistically, and treat everyone with extra love. They change from seemingly jaded to relieved and lovely. In a way I like the challenge of reframing the stereotype and seeing kindness blossom in unusual places.

    When i lived in BH for 2 years. I tried to do the same but it was hard to connect with folks I think because people work hard and are involved with their families. The nanny thing was very shocking for me as I was raised in Montana with my mom and dad. I always found it strange to have others hired to help raise a child. But there are reasons I do not understand I am sure. In the end I’m glad I spent time in BH and I do wish much peace and harmony for all families there!
    I’ll be in Williamsburg and if you ever decide to come over for a visit I’ll show you some nice places to go!!

  • Theo

    Hmmm. So much said already.

    First, anyone who says Reggie Watts is without talent is ridiculous. Just watch him improvise; you will smile, laugh and possibly even feel it in your pancreas. Evidently one day when his hair had just gotten too heavy, he dissed BH. His comments here show his true self and clarify an off-the-cuff interview.

    Second, Paul Giamatti has made a fortune with his self-deprecation; now please leave him alone so he can enjoy his success in his nice, quiet BH brownstone.

    REGGIE – There are plenty of people in BH who raise their own kids, work in the arts and some who still pay a cheap rent. We visit Williamsburg when we’re in the mood for a crowd. But glad you are enjoying yourself. Don’t move to Bushwick….

  • Andrew Porter

    Thinking about my building, I see inter-racial couples, gay couples, people of color, Brits, Indians, white people and retired couples, a French-Lebanese couple with their child, a famous singer-songwriter, and people from my birthplace, Michigan. A delightful mix of young and old, all colors, all religions, much more varied than it’s ever been. An example of why NYC is the great melting pot it’s become.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    If you feel so negatively about living here, why don’t you move?

  • PBL

    Props to Reggie Watts for coming on here and elaborating on his interview. He has nothing to apologize about, he stated his opinion, and I respect him coming on here and bantering with the BHB crowd. Well done …