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Comedy CD Review: Demetri Martin – Standup Comedian

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With Standup Comedian, Demetri Martin, a comedian accustomed to coming on stage with a lot of “baggage,” hopefully aims to demonstrate that one man up on a stage with good material can still be funny. He doesn’t need the costumes and the screens and the drawings and all of the other stuff. If the one-liners are good enough, that will do the job.

And for most of the set that he delivers on his new CD, he proves the point. He does get out his guitar and harmonica at the very end, but as he told The Guardian in an interview about the Comedy Central TV special on which the CD is based, “This time I didn’t do any of that. It was just me, and I did some drawings. No piano, no keyboard, no screen with slides. I thought it would be cool to simplify it.” This is Demetri Martin unadorned. This is standup pure and simple.

Whether he is calling attention to linguistic quirks and anomalies or unnecessary modern conveniences, he has that finely tuned dry delivery that gets audiences laughing, and he’s on to the next joke before they really have time to think more carefully about what he has said. The less time to think about it, the better it sits. After all, if what you’re doing is tossing out one-liners, you don’t want your audience thinking, you want them laughing. Context is everything. He has a knack for turning the ordinary into the absurd by changing the context. A simple word like “yep,” a phrase like “okey dokey”—they can become ridiculous in the wrong context. His bit on training bras is hilarious, that on silent letters somewhat labored. Overall Standup Comedian is an album with one-liners coming fast and furious. If you’re not laughing at one, just wait, there’ll be another one coming at you soon enough.

Martin delivers a master class in the art of the one liner.

While the Comedy Central show was filmed at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the CD was recorded separately in April of 2012 at the Acme Comedy Co, in Minneapolis and includes additional material. The CD includes a little poster of the album cover. Comedy Central is also releasing an extended and uncensored version of the TV special on DVD.

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