At a time when stand-up comedyÂ is beginning to flounderÂ - Dane Cook’s losing his edge and making movies with Jessicas (Alba and Simpson), Larry the Cable Guy is a household name, and Bill EngvallÂ has his own show -Â an unlikelyÂ hero has stepped forward: Demetri Martin. Person. And as unlikely as he may look, Martin, an NYU law school dropout and frequent correspondent forÂ ”The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”Â could be here to save the day. Or maybe just to tell some jokes.Â
With his non sequitor style humor, Martin has an easily underestimated stage presence and a quick-witted ability to draw laughs, whether with straight stand-up, musical performances, or even crudely staged performance art describing where his jokes go once they’re told. This Comedy Central special, featuring MartinÂ on the Paramount Theater stage in Austin, Texas wearing a simple homemade shirt with lightning bolts and the word “Comedy” emblazoned across it, expertly displays Martin’s slightly off-kilter brand of “logic humor”… if that’s a comedy genre.
Imagine a younger, cleaned up Mitch Hedberg playing a guitar, harmonica, or piano while telling his one-liners and you’ve got a fair idea of what a Demetri Martin stand-up special is like. With lines like “Hiking is just walking where you can pee outside.” Martin keeps the surprises coming as there really is no throughline tying the bits together. One joke may bleed into the next, but only enough to allow for an additional laugh before moving on. Also making use of a large notepad with observations he’s made over the last year on it, Martin does his best to catch the audience off guard.
Though the editing for commercial breaks is a bit off-putting, especially since the DVD includes deleted scenes and cut material, the 42-minute special is a decent amount of comedy. Most DVD specials work better as an uncut hour or so of comedy, though, allowing the viewing audience to really feel like they were there for the show. But the DVD is crammed with features to make up for this oversight. Including another twenty minute comedy central special, a few clips from some of Martin’s earlier work, and a brief interview with Martin discussing the show, the extra footage is actually longer than the special itself.
What Demetri Martin manages to do, looking slightly like Jon Heder with a dark-haired wig on, is pull off a deliberately awkward brand of comedy by presenting himselfÂ in a strangely confident awkward way. But the jokes work, Martin’s personality is endearing, and the laughs are fairly nonstop. As Demetri Martin himself would say, “Sometimes ‘sort of’ in a sentence can say everything”. This special is must see hilarity… sort of.
Zach’s Rating: A-
Zach Freeman. Person.’s rating: A-
Larry the Cable Guy fan’s rating: D+