Review: Demetri Martin, “Standup Comedian” [CD]

Telling a good joke is difficult. I don’t mean the kind of joke where you get to develop a story with characters and emotions and your opinions and reflection. I’m talking the kind of joke where you say a thing that is just an observation and follow it up with a thing that is funny. Setup. Punchline. If you’re thinking it isn’t too difficult, go ahead and think about the last time you tried to tell a joke to a group of people. Oh, it was embarrassing, wasn’t it? I bet you stumbled and forgot a detail and ended the punchline with something lame like “to that effect” or “I think that’s how it goes” or “I’ll show myself out and please don’t tell my friends and family about this.”

Demetri Martin is good at jokes. Setup to punchline jokes. They’re quick, easy to quote, and generally hilarious. His latest album, Standup Comedian, is another fine example of his ability to unpack a lot of laughs out of very short, to-the-point jokes.

Standup Comedian initially has this kind of goddamn college kid with a fucking notebook that says shit in it kind of vibe. Martin starts off with a few funny riffs about the room he’s in and then immediately begins laying out joke after joke. It really does feel like a guy just reading a bunch of stuff out of a notebook scrawled with an infinite number of puns and observations and silly drawings and this imaginary scenario is probably also in a coffee shop and you sort of hate this place and that guy because what kind of an asshole just reads a bunch of jokes off from a notebook like that?

But any personal problems you have with that kind of tone are quickly buried deep into your subconscious—where they and all of your emotions belong—as each and every one of Martin’s jokes really do land a well deserved laugh. Even when you see where he’s going to end the joke after hearing the setup, Martin’s voice is able to deliver the punchline so quickly and efficiently that you don’t get time to silently criticize him and you, instead, just laugh.

The goddamn college kid with a fucking notebook that says shit in it and holy fuck is that seriously a harmonica vibe continues when Martin eventually pulls out his guitar. However, like the rest of the album, the jokes that are told with musical accompaniment are still clever and hilarious and you never really have time to dislike what Martin is presenting to you. Plus, hearing Martin sing the punchlines of some of his jokes as if they were the chorus to some kind of deranged, old Bob Dylan song (or a normal, modern Bob Dylan song) is surprisingly delightful.

Standup Comedian works from beginning to end. I don’t recall being turned off by a single joke from the entire album. And even though thinking about Demetri Martin reminds me of people from my personal life I hate, Standup Comedian is a great comedy album and certainly deserves a listen or two.

Final Rating: However many miles away you are from that coffee shop where that goddamn guy with the beard and the dumb hat always plays guitar (that would be a two for me, which is quite a respectful and unbiased score).

Buy Demetri Martin’s “Standup Comedian” via iTunes:

Standup Comedian - Demetri Martin

You can follow the author of this article, Matthew Fugere, on Twitter (@matthewfugere) or check out his personal blog here.

Matthew Fugere

Matthew Fugere is a guy from Virginia who tries to be funny with words and thoughts on the internet. You can see those words and thoughts on his Tumblr: thesageadviceofmatt.tumblr.com or on his Twitter: @matthewfugere

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5 thoughts on “Review: Demetri Martin, “Standup Comedian” [CD]

  1. This is a very poorly written review.
    Now I have not heard this album, and I probably never will,
    but I do have several issues with the type of criticism featured here.

    “Standup Comedian initially has this kind of goddamn college kid with a fucking notebook that says shit in it kind of vibe.”
    I don’t understand how you would come to this conclusion. Are the notebook pages audible on the cd? This seems like an arbitrary critique, in fact it reveals much more about the insecurity of the reviewer, than it tells me about the album. For example, sentences like, “But any personal problems you have with that kind of tone are quickly buried deep into your subconscious” are clearly suffering from a misuse of the 2nd person perspective. Instead it should have been written as, “But any personal problems I have with that kind of tone are quickly buried deep into MY subconscious”.

    “Final Rating: However many miles away you are from that coffee shop where that goddamn guy with the beard and the dumb hat always plays guitar (that would be a two for me, which is quite a respectful and unbiased score).”

    So you give this a 2? that does not seem like a “respectful” score.

    As for the “unbiased” line, when you say things like, “And even though thinking about Demetri Martin reminds me of people from my personal life I hate,”

    I can’t help but feel the bias.

    Am I possibly misreading the tone of the review?
    are lines like “a two for me, which is quite a respectful and unbiased score” supposed to be read as sarcasm?

    yours truly,
    a confused reader

  2. Larry Sanders: “This is a very poorly written review. Now I have not heard this album, and I probably never will,
    but I do have several issues with the type of criticism featured here.”

    Right off that bat, this person is a dick and obviously doesn’t get the kind of humor the reviewer is going for.

    Larry Sanders: “Am I possibly misreading the tone of the review?”

    Yes.

  3. I like Demetri but I don’t think this was his strongest effort (though it’s still better than a lot of what is released by others). Some of the material is actually from “Important Things” which leads me to believe he may not have had time to work on new stuff before this release, and just went with what he had to put together a new package. My biggest nit is the joke that isn’t his own, about boxing being “two men fighting over a belt” – that’s been around since before the internet, as a quick search will reveal, and it seems hard to believe that such an original comedian wouldn’t know that.

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