Imagine some guy with a dorky haircut trying to look cool as he skates past you on the sidewalk. Suddenly, the wheels of his skateboard catch on a crack in the cement, and he launches like a projectile.
This goofball normally wouldn’t seem like the type of guy you’re dying to get to know, but when it’s comedian Demetri Martin telling you that story about himself — and how the world seemed to have disappeared as he tried in vain to outrun the sheer momentum of his body — the story suddenly becomes much more endearing.
Martin’s ability to transform these everyday experiences into hilarious anecdotes exemplifies his penchant for clever observational humor, which, along with bitingly witty one-liners, forms his trademark as a comedian. Martin brought a wealth of these types of stories along with some short-and-sweet jokes to his stand-up performance at the Tabernacle this Saturday, a show which marked the second stop in his five-city 2011 Mega Mini tour.
The overwhelming majority of the material Martin delivered during his Saturday performance was new, but the jokes stayed true to his signature style. Martin often accompanies his jokes with music, playing various songs he’d written with the piano, guitar and harmonica — including an ironic piece called “Nice Things I’ve Done with Water Balloons,” which innocently explained that he was really just helping a bum to take a bath by throwing that water balloon at him.
Martin also presented a large sketchpad of humorous diagrams that he flipped through, swiftly moving from one astute joke to the next without giving the audience a chance to settle down before inducing another riotous explosion of laughter.
The sketches included flowcharts, graphs and diagrams, including a line graph plotting the correlation between how much a person resembles Jesus to the likelihood that said person is carrying marijuana.
And of course, what would a Demetri Martin show be without incisive one-liners? These abounded as well: “If I ever saw bats--t, I’d be like, ‘that’s crazy.’”
Probably the most telling sign that Martin has achieved a dedicated fan base is the fact that despite the wealth of new material, audience members were still insisting that he deliver some of his classic old jokes.
At the request of the audience, Martin repeated a few of his memorable classics (“I think they named oranges before they named carrots”).
Martin also actively engaged the audience, keeping the crowd in hysterics by teasing and joking about individual audience members that he singled out, as well as by delivering clever, spontaneous responses to questions from his fans.
“Why does your hair look like that?” one woman asked.
Martin isn’t self-deprecating, but he’s certainly good at making fun of himself. He seemed mildly exasperated by the question at first, but he then pushed his hair back to demonstrate how much he would resemble the early-’90s sitcom persona Blossom if it were cut, to the intense delight of the audience.
While the scripted routine that encompassed Martin’s new material for the Mega Mini tour certainly met the expectations of the hundreds of hyper fans, the spontaneous jokes were by far the highlights of his performance.
Martin’s abilities to entertain, engage a crowd of hundreds and casually deliver jokes created on the spot demonstrate that razor-sharp wit is inherently natural for this multi-talented Blossom lookalike.
— Contact Catherine Cai