By Catherine Cai
“I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades — especially if your teammates are bad guessers.”
Demetri Martin’s love for mildly ironic, observational humor has made short, clever jokes such as these, from his first CD compilation in 2006, These Are Jokes
, his signature as a comedian.
Martin is relentless with his wit and he will be bringing his satirical sense of humor to the Tabernacle tomorrow night as a part of his 2011 Mega Mini tour.
“I just made [the name] up,” Martin said a in an interview with the Wheel
. “It had to do with the tour being big and small at the same time. I think I’m doing a big show because I have a lot of new material, but I’m only doing five dates.”
The show at the Tabernacle will be the second stop in Martin’s five-city tour.
Martin previously performed in Atlanta at the Roxy Theatre in 2006 and remarks that his experience was a positive one.
“I remember being pleasantly surprised because I hadn’t been there before and I was like ‘geez, I wonder how this is going to go.’ And it was great,” he says. “I don’t think I had a huge crowd, but they were so responsive and nice.”
Despite his seeming ease in finding hilarity in everyday situations, Martin didn’t realize he wanted to be a comedian immediately.
In fact, most would consider his path starkly unconventional: Martin began exploring stand-up after dropping out of New York University law school after his second year.
He attributes part of his decision to the fact that the city provided him with a positive environment for his endeavors, explaining that the comedy clubs nearby became helpful as he was “starting to get restless.” Comedy had always come naturally to him, but he didn’t realize his talent right away.
“In college, I liked joking around a lot with my friends in the dining hall,” he says. “I’d often stay at dinner, a whole dinner time, and just go from table to table and hang out with different friends and groups of people,” he said. “I didn’t realize it, but I was really adept at doing stand-up because I’d just do bits and joke around a lot.”
Along with his stand-up routines, Martin began writing for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” during which he won awards and nominations along with other contributors. He then wrote for “Late Night” for four years and eventually cultivated a larger fan base with his Comedy Central show, “Important Things with Demetri Martin.”
Martin also gained recognition from appearing in a number of movies, including taking the leading role in director Ang Lee’s 2009 comedy, “Taking Woodstock.”
Despite the distinctive, characteristic style of humor that has become his identity as a comedian, Martin still promises a wealth of new material for his Mega Mini tour.
His stage presence is always notably engaging: Martin often accompanies his stand-up with guitar music, guest appearances from other comedians (sometimes even his grandmother) and even humorous sketches on a drawing board. Martin also frequently involves the audience in his routines.
“It’s fun to just pay attention to what’s happening in the room and to talk to people who are there,” Martin explains. “As opposed to being so one-sided where the fourth wall is so firmly built there, where the audience is just watching and its almost like watching TV. I like it better to be a little more interactive.”
Martin’s Mega Mini tour will be followed by another tour to promote the release of his first book (perhaps predictably titled, This Is a Book
) next month. Martin hopes that through presenting his material in different forms, he book will give fans a peak into Martin’s creative process.
A significant portion of Martin’s humor exists in the form of writing — he always carries a notebook around with him to record ideas that pop into his head.
“It’s a collection of short stories and first-person essays,” he explains. “One portion there’s jokes and one-liners and lists, bunch of drawings, charts and graphs — it’s kind of a grab-bag, but it’s 300 pages, so I think it’s a pretty substantial thing because it’s all original material. It’s all new stuff.”
In addition to his book, Martin has an upcoming role in “Contagion,” an upcoming Steven Soderbergh film that will come out in the fall. He also has plans for another book, another stand-up special and even a screenplay for a comedy movie.
“I have six ideas right now that I’m choosing between, so I’m trying make little beats for them,” he says. “At some point, I’m just gonna have to pick one and stop going between them because it’s kind of going on the path of basic procrastination."
In any case, fans can expect to see many more creative projects from Martin in the near future.
It’s no surprise that Martin’s fan base is ever-growing, but he says he just tries to be normal.
“People tell me to do a joke or be funny, and I’m just trying to eat a sandwich or something. I feel stupid,” he explains. “I’m not a celebrity, you know what I mean. ... It’s usually like, ‘oh hey, I’ve seen your show’ or ‘I have your CD’ or something, so it’s kind of nice.”
— Contact Catherina Cai.