There’s something not quite right about Demetri Martin.
Martin’s brain seems to be routed through the non-sequatur with a side trip to crazy town. The comic’s roots clearly dig down to stand-up star Steven Wright and “Far Side” creator Gary Larson.
He may look like a typical board boy with his cute little cereal bowl hair cut down to his skater shoes, but that brain’s constantly churning with odd little takes on life.
The former Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart staff writer gets his own sketch show Important Things with Demetri Martin at 10:30 Wednesdays on Comedy Central. Martin, who would need to chug an entire Starbucks inventory to get excited, serves up his cool observations in a deliciously level manner. And speaking of coffee, he can make a drawing of coffee spin off in a variety of comic directions just by adding a few lines making it hot coffee or speeding towards you hot coffee.
Guess you’d have to see it.
Important Things come from Stewart’s Busboy Productions company. This is only the second series picked up through Stewart’s agreement with the cable channel. The first resulted in a show called The Colbert Report.
Martin should be pounding out his own distinct comedy path soon. The series was set to air last year, but the writer’s strike and a starring role in Ang Lee’s upcoming film Taking Woodstock put Important Things on hold.
First off, Martin wants people to know a few things about him.
“Some stats. I’m 5’11, I dropped out of law school. I have extensive food allergies, seafood, poultry, nuts. It’s pretty serious, anaphylaxis, it could kill me, but I’m still pretty tough despite that,” Martin, 35, says. “If I avoid those foods, I can hang with anybody. I’ve got a lot of stamina.”
The son of a Greek Orthodox priest, who died of cancer when Martin was 20, grew up in New Jersey knowing that he probably wasn’t the kind of person who was going to become gridiron star.
“My grades, coupled with my inability at team sports, would probably put me in the nerd category,” he admits.
He almost opted for a traditional career as an attorney after graduating from Yale with a degree in history, but dropped out of New York University law school to take a shot at comedy. The funny guy found his spot in the world of stand-up and in comedy, and even gets a big screen premiere in the upcoming Lee film where he plays concert promoter and gay-rights pioneer Elliot Tiber.
“What a weird, unbelievable opportunity. I’m just trying to get some small parts in movies, to get some chops, to see if I can hold my own in a scene with a trained actor,” Martin says. “And I get the call (from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lee). This guy made people run on the tops of trees. This is a talented person.”
Lee cast him as the lead in the film, which freaked Martin out just a little bit.
“I didn’t really act much before, so my first thing was you’re going to be in the ’60s and you’re Jewish and you’re gay, so just know that you’re going to make out with a guy,” Martin says. “So, wow, that’s a crash course in acting. That’s a triple. But it was cool.”
His new show, Martin explains, is a “thing show.” He chooses a thing, and then chats about it. Some people wouldn’t be able to pull of a show about, say, power. But Martin’s got it covered.
“People are arrogant,” Martin says about power.
Like they see a bird in flight and decide to toss it into a cage “and make it crap on old information.”
“Bears like honey. So what do we do? We serve honey out of a bear,” Martin observes.
Yes, Martin has the power. And he’s not opposed to using it.