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Monday, September 24, 2012

Demetri Martin: "Standup Comedian" (2012) DVD Review

I love comedians who play with language, and so I quickly became a fan of Demetri Martin while watching his new stand-up special, appropriately titled Standup Comedian. His bit about introducing people is wonderful, focusing on the difference between how you introduce yourself on the phone and in person. "This is Frank" versus "I am Frank," and the implications of the two being reversed. It sounds simple, but his delivery is perfect. And he clearly has his own perspective, his own way of looking at the world, which of course all comedians should have (but sadly, all do not). He often plays with opposites and finds interesting connections between seemingly unconnected ideas or objects. Some of his funniest and most delightful comedy comes from this area. And what's great is that all of the connections completely make sense.

He also has us take another look at some common expressions, expressions people use without really thinking about them. For example, about the expression "spinning in his grave," Demetri says, "Why is spinning the way a corpse shows disapproval?"  I also really like his bit on silent letters.

There are only a few jokes or bits that don't work, such as the training bra bit, which falls a bit flat. But he doesn't dwell on any subject, so if there is something that doesn't work for you, don't worry, as he will quickly be onto something else.

Demetri Martin works with a couple of props. A large pad of paper on an easel is brought out, featuring drawings he'd done. I love the picture of the "Baby Silencer," a great idea (and one he should market, seriously). And the series of graphs is wonderful, though I do wonder if the folks in the back could see all that stuff. And later I had the same thought regarding the fake flyers he's created. Most of those were really funny, though I don't agree at all with his opinion of men with fur coats, especially as I am a man with a fur coat. (By the way, he has one about eating cats, which Grandmother Winsome would appreciate.)

This special was filmed in New York.  He acknowledges the television and DVD audience at the beginning of his performance, something few comedians seem to do on the Comedy Central specials. "Thanks for clapping so much. I appreciate that. And thanks to anyone at home who was clapping. That's kind of weird, but I appreciate it." Another thing you rarely hear a comedian say: "I'm going to do some more jokes here." But he says it when the easel is removed.

I love his bit about the tree house. "I think a tree house is really insensitive. That's like killing something and making one of its friends hold it."  And then about bird houses, he says, "Birds are one of the only other creatures who make their own house. And they're one of the only ones we make houses for. That is arrogant. What's that? That's your house? Nice try. Those are some twigs. That's a shitty patio at best."  And I love this: "I like people-watching. Mostly just one woman."

Toward the end of his set, he plays acoustic guitar and harmonica, but doesn't really do actual songs. He strums along as he tells great one-liners, stuff like "I wonder if it's rude for a deaf person to talk with food in their hands" and "I want to fill a pinata with actual animal guts" and "I am a man of my word, and that word is 'unreliable.'"  I love this one: "It must suck to have just one arm...until you get arrested."

Bonus Features

The DVD has several bonus features, none of which is all that interesting. But, whatever, they're bonus features, so who cares? The first is an audio commentary track. The idea of a commentary track for stand-up, which is essentially commentary, is funny. But the track itself isn't that funny, and it lasts only three minutes or so. Then, building on that joke, the DVD includes a commentary on the commentary, which is funnier in concept than execution, but still is a bit funnier than the first commentary, and is even shorter.

The second bonus feature is a ten-minute segment on rejected concepts from the comedy special. They're presented as drawings with him telling us his ideas in voice over, to guitar accompaniment. Some of it is funny (such as lighting a fire at the beginning of the show), and some is not as funny (like the hovering idea).  There are three other bonus features, all of which are simply brief moments from the show, but with music added. For example, A Scene From An Ominous Grammar-Based Murder Mystery is the silent letter bit from the show, but with mystery music added.

Standup Comedian is scheduled to be released on October 2, 2012. It will also air, in a slightly shortened form, on Comedy Central on September 29, 2012 at 10:00 p.m.

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