Gothamist published a new interview with Demetri Martin today that doesn’t get a lot out of the comedian during their limited email correspondence, timed toward Martin’s late-night Tuesday series at Rififi (which continues tonight and June 3, doors at 10 p.m., $5) that has him trying out new jokes along with special guests. Martin’s upcoming Comedy Central show, "Important Things with Demetri Martin," tentatively has a fall 2008 debut (at least from MTV Networks described at the upfronts). There’s a good reason to prepare some new material right there.
Martin did reveal one interesting thing when Gothamist asked him if he felt he needed to be "on" during his offstage life now that more people know him, replying: "I’m not even ‘on’ all the time on stage."
That’s certainly true for anyone who has seen Martin recently at places such as Rififi, with the comedian often going up while still carrying a backpack and wearing multiple layers, taking his time to gather himself, and also pausing to reflect on his surroundings. It’s not polished, not meant to be. Watching Martin try out new material is a slightly surreal experience, not just for the aforementioned reason, but also because of his joke-telling style. Martin, like Steven Wright, Zach Galifianakis, or the late Mitch Hedberg before him, attempts to take observational humor in a more creative direction. His artistic and musical talents help him in that regard. But sometimes, to get to a thought that stops an audience in its tracks with laughter, you see thoughts that are more commonplace. Yes, all comedians tell new jokes, so yes, all comedians end up telling a new joke here and there that doesn’t work. It’s just weirder when you see it with someone such as Martin. It reminds me of seeing Jerry Seinfeld, who took observational comedy to famous and fabulously wealthy lengths, telling a very hack joke about erectile dysfunction. Except Seinfeld told that joke (more than once) to thousands of fans who paid top dollar to see him in theater concerts. At least Martin is trying out his new observations in front of only dozens of fans, paying $5 to see him in an East Village dive, so he can figure out what really works and what should make it to the TV show. And that’s a very Important Thing indeed.