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?'