Dropping out a year before graduating from the NYU School of Law where he had a full scholarship, Demetri Martin ventured into comedy and the world is a better place for it. His sense of humor combines intelligence and absurdity in vein similar to the work of comedian Steven Wright and Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson. Martin performed stand-up in clubs and worked as a writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien during the 2003-2004 season. In 2005, he first appeared as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart’s production company produces the Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin.
Similar in format to Dave Chappelle’s famous television series on the same channel, “Important Things” finds Martin performing live in front of a studio audience, sometimes with the help of visual aids as has become his signature, and in filmed sketches. The material for each of Season One’s seven episodes revolves around one word or idea. The episodes are titled accordingly: “Timing,” “Power,” “Brains,” “Chairs,” “Safety,” “Coolness,” and “Games.”
The show has recurring characters (Martin as the “What” Slam Poet Champion, the inventor DaMici, and the philopsher Demetrocles) and bits (“Fairly Important Fairy Tales” presents variations on familiar stories and “DADZ” finds two new dads adjusting to their roles). Martin is joined in many of the sketches by producer/writer H. Jon Benjamin whose voice and delivery are so perfect he doesn’t even need to be telling jokes to make me laugh. Many will recognize him as the voice of Ben from Dr. Katz Professional Therapist and Coach John McGuirk from Home Movies. Guest stars this season include David Cross, John Oliver, and Amanda Peet.
Some of the linking scenes look to be shot on 16mm and then blown up. The grainy footage gives the show a low budget, independent film look, and brings to mind The Kids in the Hall. The DVD is uncensored, but it doesn’t make that completely clear unless you read the small print on the back of the case. When Martin dropped the f-word, it caught me off guard.
The DVD comes with Bonus Things. There are deleted sketches and outtakes, pre-production notes, commentaries on four episodes and one deleted sketch with Martin and two writers who provide great insight into the making-of the episodes.
Important Things With Demetri Martin has been picked up for a second season to air in 2010, and from the number of laughs the series offers, it’s easy to understand why. If you think comedy is important, rent this DVD.