Standup Comedian: a comedic success
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
The stage of the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York is a simple abyss – black curtains seem to mesh completely with the black stage beneath them. The emptiness is disturbed only by the man walking to the center of the stage and the ensuing rowdy wave of applause accompanying his entrance.
Comedian Demitri Martin smiles and thanks the crowd humbly.
“Thanks for clapping so much,” Martin said. “I appreciate that. And thanks to anyone at home who was clapping ... That’s kind of weird, but I appreciate it.”
Last Saturday night, Demitri Martin’s newest stand-up special, Demitri Martin: Standup Comedian, aired on Comedy Central. Though he is known for his straightforward joke delivery, Martin breaks things down even more for Standup Comedian. This time around, he focuses purely on telling direct jokes to the crowd than engaging in more theatrical bits like he did in his 2007 special, Person.
“In the other TV specials I did, I had friends come on stage … wearing costumes and things like that, and there was set decoration you know, like a tree or something,” Martin said in an interview with The Spectrum. “This time I tried to really simplify it and focus most of it on just the jokes ... Pretty stupid description. [Standup Comedian is] mostly what I usually do but I kind of ... simplified things a little bit.”
Within the first five minutes of the special, it was obvious that the crowd loved Martin. Even the shortest of one-liners prompted riotous laughter and when the cameras focused on the audience, faces without smiles were rare.
A big reason his humor is so effective is because of its observational quality – most of his jokes revolve around uncomplicated, everyday scenarios and situations. Though his subject matter is basic, his intelligent wit makes his jokes exceed acknowledgements of life’s quirks.
At one point, Martin discusses middle names with the crowd – a two-part joke that prompts even more laughter from the audience.
“I was talking to my friend and I said, ‘Hey, what’s your middle name?’ He says, ‘I have two middle names.’” Martin pauses, letting the silence emphasize his impending punch line: “You have no middle names. You have a space.”
Although his jokes are well thought out, he claims his joke process is much less complicated than one might expect. The secret to his creative process?
“Because I like to daydream a lot, standup ended up being a job that was almost the shortest distance from daydreaming to doing a job,”Martin said. “I had day jobs when I first started, and I would goof off and stop and daydream there, but ... it was kind of a distraction.
“This job … my mind just wanders and I’m actually kind of working, so I think that lends itself to observational immediate kind of simple stuff.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Demitri Martin special without key Martin-esque segments: the first, plain joke telling accompanied by his own guitar and harmonica playing and the second, an easel that contains his own drawings which are integrated into his routine.
A large part of Martin’s appeal is his ability to illustrate his jokes as well as convey them verbally, so that type of segments had crowd members laughing non-stop.
For fans who missed the special, the Standup Comedian DVD is scheduled for a Oct. 2 release, and it will include jokes that didn’t make the televised version and other extras that Martin fans are sure to enjoy.