Monday, October 1, 2012

Demetri Martin's "Standup Comedian"

What else can I say about “Standup Comedian,” the new album from Demetri Martin except, “What did you think I was gonna say?” I’m a Demetri Martin fan and have been for some time and he never disappoints. He continuously manages to keep me laughing while simultaneously wondering just where in the world he comes up with this stuff. This time around is no different. If you like Demetri, you’ll love this one. If you’re not familiar with Demetri, you’ll love this one. And if you don’t like Demetri, I have no time for you. 

One thing I’ve loved about Martin’s comedy is his quirky sense of unique indie goofball-ness. He’s still designing the J-card CD inserts and he still includes a foldout poster with the purchase of a physical CD. Although he’s come a long way and has gained quite a bit of notoriety, he has managed to maintain his skewed outlook on everyday items and, guitar still in hand at times, he still has the vibe of an underground comic who couldn’t possibly get away with such silly randomness if he were a mainstream comedian.

And yet, he does.

From the do-it-yourself introduction all the way through to the final track of Guitar Jokes,” this album is packed with an incredible amount of quotable one-liners that will soon begin to show up as your friends’ Facebook statuses (I’ve already done it once...and it won’t be the last time. “A calzone is a food that shows you what you’ll look like if you keep eating it")

Martin’s set begins with an explanation of what kind of rooms are the most conducive to comedy and then takes a fun turn as he addresses the two empty front-row chairs. It’s a shame Clint Eastwood couldn’t have heard this before he took a stab at it. If you’re going to try the old “empty chair” routine, you need to make sure it’s done well. Martin does it well, and although this was recorded before the notorious Eastwood/chair debacle, you still can’t hear it and not compare the two. Trust me, Martin’s take on it is much more entertaining. 

For someone who isn’t a storyteller per se, Martin is quite engaging. He keeps you on your tows by switching from one topic to another and you can’t help but wonder how he remembers what’s supposed to come next. He doesn’t appear to be following a singular common thread or train of thought, yet he continues to rattle off one hilarious observation after another.

Just as he always has in the past, Martin is especially skilled at scrutinizing life’s mundane everyday tasks and inflates them so we can see the comedy that lies within. The way we’ve upgraded our bathroom technology has ended up making us all look like bad magicians and if “OK” is truly short for “okey dokey,” I’m glad we’ve opted to go with the abbreviation. Coconut-scented hand soap is a good idea most of the time and committing a murder/suicide is not only a horrible thing to do, but also guarantees an awkward afterlife.

And seriously, what do cows and dalmatians think when they see each other?

These topics aren’t approached from a cocky or brash point of view but instead they come from someone who questions only because he sincerely wants an answer. What is the best way to compliment someone on their face without sounding like a jerk? Why do we continue to insist on making birdhouses, a structure for an animal that already builds its own home? Is anyone monitoring the sudden invasion of wizards in the online vacation-themed clerical world? And seriously, is it rude for a deaf person to talk with food in their hands?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t even come close to touching on all the notes I scribbled down while listening, but that’s yet another sign of a good album: Not being able to keep up with all the good stuff.

There are two slightly different versions of this project. One of them is the audio version, which has more of a club feel and includes a wonderful interaction with a man in the audience who has two middle names. The DVD version includes more of Martin’s visual jokes, most notably his huge sketch pad of graphs, charts, and illustrations which is another of his bits that has helped set him apart from others.

Regardless of which version you go for (Go for both. Trust me. You don’t wanna miss anything), you’re sure to have a great time. It’s almost Halloween (one of Martin’s favorite holidays but not because of the free candy or fun costumes), so treat yourself to a goody that won’t rot your teeth. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it almost as much as when your ex becomes an XL.

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