Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Important Things

I am a huge fan of stand up comedy. It's weird how simply hearing random facts about life from complete strangers can really brighten your day. Some comics can keep your attention and amusement at their peak while telling you long, drawn out stories one topic at a time (Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Regan, Dane Cook, Jim Gaffigan, and of course, the late George Carlin) while others with no story-telling ability can still crack you up by keeping jokes to a max. of 10 seconds or less before moving on to the next topic (the late Mitch Hedberg). Some are great impressionists (Frank Caliendo, Dana Carvey), while the rest - and sadly, the majority - just fall into lame and unoriginal cookie-cutter patterns of comedy just to make a living.

At a point when I had figured there were no more original niches to be carved out in the world of stand up comedy, along came Demetri Martin...a man who practically reinvented the wheel. Demetri (I'll refer to him by first name because it sounds like I know him personally) is a 35 year old who looks 18.

His youthful appearance actually adds to the humor of his presentation, as he typically portrays himself in a geeky-college-student manner. Demetri's comedic style involves brief comments about many random topics, but at the drop of a hat, he can take a huge subject and expand on it through a series of one-liners; sometimes accompanied by graphic illustrations. The best examples of this are in Demetri's new weekly show, Important Things. Each episode centers around a basic and familiar one-word subject - such as "brains," "chairs," "time," or "power" - and is broken up into segments of random jokes about the episode's topic, followed by short sketches that center around the same topic. At some point, Demetri brings his versatile musical abilities into the show by playing the guitar, harmonica, piano, and various bells all at the same time while somehow still delivering his verbal punch lines. Demetri's ability to be random, yet strangely informative - and always hilarious - while delving into each episode's topic is something not seen in the world of stand up comedy today.

Wednesdays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central

A few of my favorite Demetri Martin thoughts on life:

There's a saying that goes, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Okay. How about "Nobody should throw stones." That's crappy behavior. My policy is: "No stone throwing regardless of housing situation." Don't do it. There is one exception though. If you're trapped in a glass house, and you have a stone, then throw it. What are you, an idiot? So maybe it's "Only people in glass houses should throw stones, provided they are trapped in the house with a stone." It's a little longer, but yeah.

I was walking in the park and this guy waved at me. Then he said, "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else." I said, "I am."

I saw a guy at a party wearing a leather jacket and I thought, "That is cool." But then I saw another guy wearing a leather vest and I thought, "That is not cool." Then I figured it out: "Cool" is all about leather sleeves.

Saying "I’m sorry" is the same as saying "I apologize." Except at a funeral.

An easy way to sound like a creep is to add the word "ladies" to the end of things you say. It can be harmless too, but it just makes you a creep. "Yeah, after college I spent two years in the peace corps...ladies?" The more harmless it is, the more of a creep you become. "I broke my arm. I need help...ladies?"

My favorite fruit is grapes. Because with grapes, you always get another chance. ‘Cause, you know, if you have a crappy apple or a peach, you’re stuck with that crappy piece of fruit. But if you have a crappy grape, no problem...just move on to the next. Grapes: The Fruit of Hope!

I don’t like graffiti unless it teaches me something. Like "Oh, that’s how Alex feels about Maria. I wouldn’t have known if I had not walked by there, thank you." Graffiti’s the most passionate literature there is, you know? It’s always like "Bush sucks!" or "U2 Rocks!" I want to make indifferent graffiti. "Toy Story 2 was okay!" or "I like Sheryl as a friend, but I’m not sure about taking things further." or "This is a bridge!"

I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything.

Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I’m swimming, sometimes I’m not sure which one it is. I gotta go by the outfit: Pants...uh oh. Bathing suit...okay. Naked...we’ll see.


  1. "I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything."


  2. This guy sounds pretty funny...I'll have to check him out :-)