Comedy and philosophy with Demetri Martin
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 20:09
Stand-up comedian Demetri Martin and star of Comedy Centrals “Important Things With Demetri Martin” is once again bringing his observational and witty humor to television screens in his new special “Demetri Martin Stand-up Comedian.”
The show airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central. Martin took some time to talk with The Daily 49er about his upcoming projects and the path that led him into comedy.
Martin is doing something really different with comedy. He takes his observations and uses things like music and art to bring them to life. For example, in his new stand-up special, he shows the audience a drawing of a baby wearing headphones and crying into a cone that connects to the headphones. While showing this drawing, he simply says, “Baby Silencer.” The dry humor mixed with his quirky delivery style has made him a must-see comedian throughout the past few years.
“I like to daydream a lot and [stand-up] ended up being a job that was almost the shortest distance from daydreaming to doing a job. If I do it right, my mind just wanders, and I’m actually kind of working and that really lends itself for the observational aspects of my comedy,” Martin said.
Martin dropped out of law school at New York University to pursue a career in comedy. He decided to drop out after a few semesters because he never really had that feeling of excitement or anticipation when he woke up in the morning.
“I started to think that maybe I was too young to be dreading my life choices,” Martin said. “I wish I had a fairy back then that could have just told me, ‘Hey, Demetri what are you doing in the library? You don’t need to be here; you’re just going to end up telling fart jokes.’ That would have been so nice.”
Martin was also a White House intern in 1996, but he isn’t interested in doing political humor.
“I like writing stuff about dogs, or chairs or trees — stuff that isn’t constantly changing,” Martin said. “I like tapping into things that are immediate, accessible, simple, and has a longer life”
Q: What advice would you give other students that are thinking about pursuing a more creative career like you did?
A: For me I had to find a way to make money so that I could support my pursuit of the creative career, but my advice would be to find a way to make some money to support yourself that doesn’t relate to your choice so you don’t have to make creative decisions based on money.
I temped as a proof reader when I started doing stand-up, and that was a great decision because I was able to try the weirdest, most esoteric stand-up without having to worry about it being marketable or selling it to anybody.
I was able to have that “F—k you money” where I could turn down things and not do anything that you felt compromise your work.
You also really have to really love what you do, even if you know that you aren’t going to be making any money at it for a while.
Q: How would you describe your sense humor to those that are unfamiliar with you?
A: I always say I’m a joke teller, and when people meet me they are always like, “Oh, you’re a comedian? You’re not joking around? You don’t seem that funny.” And I’m like, “Thank you, I appreciate that.” But yeah, I just try to come up with something simple.
Most of my jokes are ideas that are accessible and simple, but hopefully people are surprised and interested. You don’t really need to know anything too specific to get the jokes because they are not really based in references that require special knowledge. You don’t need to know who Salvador Dali is to get one of my jokes.
One thing I always like to think about is that human nature hasn’t changed much since the human [race] has been around. The context has changed, and the technology has changed, and various aspects of our daily lives have changed and will continue to change, but at the core of all of it, as human beings, people aren’t that different than they might have been in Shakespeare’s day or in Ancient Greece.
A couple years ago, I read a story about an archeologist that found, what was essentially, a joke book that was written in Roman times. They were one-liners that were written over 2,000 years ago. This was really fascinating because there were fat jokes, ugly wife jokes and fart jokes. It just proves that some things really haven’t changed.
Martin and Comedy Central will be releasing an extended and uncensored DVD of his performance at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on Oct. 2. For more information about Martin or the “Demetri Martin: Stand-up Comedian” special, visit comedycentral.com or demetrimartin.com.