Blogs tagged with "Comedy"

Last night I had the great fortune to see my favorite comedian, Demetri Martin, live at Kent State University. I've been a Demetri Martin fan ever since the first time I saw him on YouTube doing a video for a song called "Selfish Jean" by Travis. Almost completely by accident that same week, I caught his stand up special called "Demetri Martin - Person" on Comedy Central. I was hooked immediately.

When people ask me to describe Demetri Martin's comedy, the only thing I can come up with is "Steven Wright with props," -- and then I wonder if that's an old-person reference. Does anyone still know who Steven Wright is? I'm guessing most of Demetri Martin's fans have not heard of him. Why? Because most of Demetri's fans weren't born when Steven Wright was popular. And they packed the Mac Center in Kent last night. I was acutely aware of being the oldest person in the building. Even the people I was with, my husband Jim and my good friend Elizabeth, were younger than me. Despite the fact that Demetri's is closer to 40 than 30 (although he looks more like 20), most of his fans are of a generation that demonstrate their enthusiasm by getting tattoos of him on their bodies (I am NOT making this up). One such fan had the pleasure of showing hers to the entire audience last night at Demetri's request. But it didn't matter how old anyone was last night -- Demetri made EVERYONE laugh.
Last night was my third time seeing Demetri live, and he was as funny as he's ever been. I was happy to see that every time I looked over at Elizabeth, a Demetri Martin virgin, she was laughing out loud. He did all the standards: the "Large Pad" (jokes that involve visual representation), the jokes with keyboard and guitar, and some new stand-up jokes. One of the funniest things he's doing lately is showing the audience a bunch of flyers that he made to put up in the local businesses or coffee shops. The photo to the left shows one of these flyers -- it says "I can see you right now. Call me to prevent me from getting you" but all the phone number tags are torn off. These are not just props. They're witty props. And oh my God! You have to know how to READ. Maybe that's why Demetri is so popular on college campuses.
The mark of a good comedian, in my opinion, is one who can develop a rapport with each and every audience no matter where he is. Demetri does this right from the start of every show by surveying his surroundings and making jokes about them. Last night, upon learning from the Kent State students that their main rival was Akron -- whose mascot is "a kangaroo" -- he cleverly noted the absurdity of it: "don't they know there are no marsupials in North America?"

But by far, my favorite part of a live Demetri show is the last 15 minutes or so when he "takes requests" from the audience. People shout out their favorite jokes and he performs them. Seriously? A stand-up comedian who takes requests? Even Demetri looks surprised when people shout out jokes he may not have done in a while. He even screws them up once in a while. And then laughs out loud at his own blunders. Elizabeth loved how he sometimes can't help himself and laughs at his own jokes. And isn't that what comedy is all about?

To shift gears from my previous (heavy) post, I've decided to write a short review of a great comedian I saw recently.

On May 28, 2009, Jim and I drove to Detroit (actually Royal Oak) to see Demetri Martin live at the Royal Oak Theater. Although the venue and our seats were not ideal, Demetri was hilarious -- all that I expected and more. A note about the seats: the venue "seating" consists of wide flat tiers. The seats provided were folding chairs placed in rows on the tier levels. Thus, if you weren't in the front row of the section, you didn't have a good sightline. Especially if someone taller was sitting anywhere in front of you. But, on the lighter side, the seating had the benefit of giving Demetri an additional piece of material: if we didn't enjoy his comedy, we could always throw our chairs at him.

On to the review. I can say, with certainty, that Demetri Martin is the first stand-up comedian I've seen who takes requests for jokes. His jokes are so funny that people will yell out requests (at his prompting) for him to retell jokes they already know. Instead of waiting to hear his "new" material, also offered. We witnessed his ability to tell ANY of his jokes while playing a guitar -- in effect making ALL of his jokes: 'The Jokes with Guitar.' I learned I'm not the only one who thinks Demetri Martin jokes never get old, no matter how many times you hear (or see) them. I think they get even funnier upon multiple listens. This brings me to another audience favorite feature: the jokes with the 'Large Pad.' I've often described Demetri as Steven Wright with props. The Large Pad is his trademark. The new Large Pad jokes were as hilarious as ever, but the sad truth of all comedy shows is that your memory of the jokes fades with time. And no video cameras were allowed. I should have written some of the jokes down right after the show so I can fill the interim with memories while waiting for more recorded material.

Final notes: there were great surprises. One was no opener. When the lights dimmed, Demetri walked onstage. No introduction. No warm-up comedian. Just Demetri. He proceeded to get his feet wet with the audience by surveying the theater and the stage, using a green laser pointer (which made Jim very happy having gotten one as a xmas present from me). He made impromptu jokes about his surroundings like the balconies that were just decoration - great stuff! To end the night, for an encore, he came back onstage, thanked the audience for being so responsive, and let us ask him questions. This gave me a new insight into Demetri Martin, 'person' -- the guy is a great story teller. Full stop. Well, either that, or he just has great stories. I think it's the former. As a matter of fact, I think Demetri Martin is like every great comedian: he looks at life with an eye for finding irony and humor in everyday occurrences. He related how he was the last of his friends to learn to ride a bike, and counteracted that by being the first one (by choice) to learn to ride a unicycle. Duly noting that 'the guy riding the unicycle' is the dork. He told us about his early days trying to get "booked" at a laundromat in NYC. Upon disappointment that people didn't laugh at his jokes, he had to be reminded that these people were focused on getting their laundry finished rather than listening to the guy telling jokes..

The experience left me with a smile that lasted for days and a whole new appreciation for Demetri Martin. I thought he was GREAT before I ever saw him live. Now I know what a down-to-earth guy he is, and I smile knowing he's one of the people who truly deserves the success he's enjoying. Even if he says, 'I'm not famous,' in response to the audience question: 'How do you handle the fame?'

Bravo Demetri!

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