When you were a kid, you probably went through a “labeling stuff” phase. You walked around your house to either your parents’ amusement or chagrin, writing what everything was right on it in the most straightforward way possible. If you’re like everyone else, you grew out of that phase. If you didn’t, you’re probably Demetri Martin.
Martin has been working his way into comedy for years. His first big break was an appearance on the Comedy Central show Premium Blend, and since then he has been a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and written for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He has had three comedy specials, the most recent of which is Demetri Martin: Person.
In this latest special, Martin lets the rest of the world in on the simplistically literal yet charming way he sees the world around him. Through comedy, music and art, he crafts a childish yet clever view of the world and pulls the audience into it.
The special is presented in several segments, variety-show style. Martin does traditional stand-up, musical comedy, and even a bit with a large pad (on which he has written “large pad”) filled with his “findings.” Interspersed with these are animated video shorts which continue in his traditionally literal style, and the final segment is complete with a puppet-theater styled scene narrated by Martin and punctuated by one-liners.
Martin’s sense of humor is quick and cutting. Some of his jokes are situational and have a story behind them, while others are short and sweet and delivered with deadpan pride. His piano-playing segment consists solely of him playing a melody and tossing off one-liners to the beat (“A power nap is sleeping on someone who’s weaker than you”). The show never loses momentum with a weak joke or an overdone concept; he keeps it moving with expert precision.
Some of the jokes are so simple that you’ll wonder why you haven’t come up with them yourself. For instance, his pie chart on procrastination, which is just a drawing of an empty circle, is one of the simplest jokes in the show and still brings down the house. Others are beautifully intricate, like his pillow-fight chart which pits man against woman, woman against woman, and pillow against pillow (crazy awesome).
Martin’s stage persona is wonderfully deadpan. No matter how bizarre his joke or how powerful his audience reaction, he keeps a straight face and remains confident in his logic. He seems like a more confident and less frizzy-haired version of Napoleon Dynamite, especially when it comes to his doodles in the “Art” segment and the “Mytho-zoology” animated sketch.
Martin manages to deliver a beautifully tuned show without working blue. The closest he comes is by drawing what is either a CD or a boob (“either way, don’t scratch,”) and using the word “bitch.” Most blatant is his one-liner, “It’s very easy to turn a toy into an adult toy: location, location, location!” which toes the lines between funny and inappropriate pretty closely. However the rest of his production is quite family-friendly, provided your family is quick enough to keep up with his dialogue.
The DVD of the Demetri Martin: Person, which was released September 4th, 2007, is a tribute to Martin’s literal mind full of music, doodles, and obvious labels. Besides the standup special, the disc has several tracks of commentary, deleted scenes, some alternate sketches, and lots of hidden jokes. One option on the main page simply reads, “Nothing,” and selecting it takes you to a page that says, “told you.”
Martin has a website where he posts doodles, music, poetry, and even a pretty impressive palindrome poem. This is also where he posts upcoming tour dates, and will soon add a page of merchandise as well.
While Martin is not currently touring, he writes on his site that he hopes to get another tour going soon. In the meantime, check out his comedy special Demetri Martin: Person and get a look at one of the up-and-coming comedians of our time.