Demetri Martin

By 6:30 p.m., the line for Demetri Martin wrapped around Paramount Theatre. It was 82 degrees, the sun refused to leave my line of vision, and I was starting to sweat through the dark jeans I seriously regretted wearing within about two minutes. 

VIP badge owners breezed past the peasants in the fan badge line. It was 6:45, and our line had not moved. People started sitting on the narrow window ledges fora small respite. The group behind me loudly regretted their failure to pregame. 

The following is a breakdown of my evening waiting for and attending Martin’s set at Moontower Comedy Festival.

6:55 p.m.: I want air conditioning. They promised the doors opened at 6. They promised.

7:01 p.m.: There is a sudden rush toward the ticket stand, and people revive themselves to hurry and snatch a flimsy ticket from a patient volunteer. She smiles at everyone and congratulates them on getting tickets before they ran out.

I give my ticket to a small, wrinkled lady with a sharp black suit and red bow tie. Her name tag labels her “FLO.” Flo rips off the ticket stub shakily and hands back my half. “Up the stairs to your left,” she said. “Next.”

7:07 p.m.: I settle into the balcony seat, straining my neck to see above the newsboy hat in front of me. The stage is lit with discotheque-type colors, and varying sizes of round squares cover the background. 

7:10 p.m.: Levi MacDougall takes the stage. The people laughing at his jokes are definitely drunk because for five minutes he talks about Swiss cheese. He leavesafter 30 minutes.

7:42 p.m.: Martin strolls onto stage without fanfare. People notice slowly, and the audience cheers roll from scattered yells to theater-wide scream. He waves, and his unassuming wave is accompanied by an unassuming dark gray hoodie. I can’t believe the man is 40. His prepubescent, Justin Bieber hair shines with a glow that can only come from good conditioner and good genes, and he looks like he could be in high school.  

Following Martin’s humor is like listening to a slightly inebriated person’s inner monologue. It’s a very intelligent person’s monologue — Martin graduated from Yale in 1995 and rejected Harvard Law School for NYU — so it’s actually funny to listen to him speak. He describes his desire to graffiti street signs as nerdy; he wants to add punctuation to “Right lane must turn right” signs to give it an inquisitive feel: “Right lane must turn, right?” 

He rambles from indecisive street signs to his consternation with salads: “Based on their behavior, cherry tomatoes are not interested in participating in the salad.”

Martin hits different topics and takes potentially controversial topics and twists it for the laugh. “You never see black magicians,” Martin said. “If a black guy makes something disappear...” His comedy can’t be labeled as predominantly social commentary, but he throws in enough to make a point. 

But then he throws in bits about sticker residue and birds getting uncomfortable with birdwatchers and stays with the whole “does any of this even relate to each other?” theme. He ends with a traditional round of “Good, Bad or Interesting?”

“Stop, drop, and roll. Good: In a fire. Bad: At the top of a stairwell. Interesting: To get out of a conversation,” Martin said.

Weekend Recs: Next to Normal, The Color Run, Demetri Martin

ZACH Theatre presents: Next to Normal
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 2nd — Saturday, Feb. 4th, 8 p.m.
1510 Toomey Road
Austin, TX 78704
HOW MUCH: $35 - $55, Student tickets for $18 one hour before show with ID

The acclaimed rock musical Next to Normal, which deals with dysfunctional families and bipolar disorder, comes to ZACH Theatre.

The Color Run Austin
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 4th, 2012 at 9 a.m.
WHERE: Mueller Park
Mueller Boulevard and Aldrich Street
Austin, TX 78723
HOW MUCH: Registration: $50.00 individual; $40.00 Team

In return for a $40-$50 registration fee, the proceeds of which go to Habitat for Humanity, participants in white t-shirts will run 5k, only to be covered in vivid colored powder at the end of each kilometer.

Demetri Martin at The Paramount Theatre
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 4th, 2012 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Paramount Theatre
713 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Known for his deadpan wit, quirky songs and unconventional live pad drawings, stand-up comedian Demetri Martin will be performing back-to-back shows at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday night.

Austin Shakespeare presents: Arcadia
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 2th — Sunday, Feb. 19th, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 W. Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78704
HOW MUCH:$17.50 - $34.50; $15 students

Austin Shakespeare will perform Arcadia, master playwright Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play set in an English home, in both the early 19th century and modern day.  

Photo Credit: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan Staff

The line to see comedian Demetri Martin, who released his first book last week, stretched across two stories of BookPeople on Friday.

Martin, a stand-up comedian who has appeared on “The Daily Show” and his own program, “Important Things with Demetri Martin,” read excerpts from “This Is A Book” to about 250 people and answered audience questions.

Martin said he decided to write a book when he began to develop comedy ideas more suited for print, such as the 19-page story “Sheila” about a man who falls in love with a ghost. He said it was exciting to create something more permanent and tangible.

“The other things I’ve made, they float away in the air or they require technology,” he said. “They require a DVD player or a CD player or an iPod. This just requires eyes and a face — it’s God technology.”

Martin did a stand-up special in Austin in 2007, and the positive experience encouraged him to make Austin one of the stops on his tour.

“When I did my stand-up special here, the crowd was so good that I thought, if I could choose cities, Austin has to be on my list,” he said.

Martin got into comedy at the age of 24, after dropping out of New York University law school after his second year. He said initially disappointing his family freed him from their expectations.

“Once they’re bummed out I’m a comic, I can come home the next week and be like, ‘I changed my mind; I want to be a dancer now,’” he said. “And, they’d be like, ‘All right, I mean, you already failed, so it doesn’t matter now.’”

Mandy Brooks, director of children’s events and marketing at BookPeople, said Martin would draw a different crowd of people to BookPeople.

“The event is unique in that we don’t get comedians here every day, but when we do have funny people at the store, it’s always more fun than, say, an event about postpartum depression or climate change,” she said in an email.

Advertising freshman Alison Stoos said she appreciated that Martin took time to read his book instead of just signing copies of it.

“It’s always interesting hearing about his background, how he was a law student and then took a chance on something as risky as stand-up comedy,” she said. “It’s really cool how it all worked out for him.”

With his wry, observational humor, kitschy, childlike drawings and deadpan delivery, Demetri Martin has become one of most famous comedians for a generation heavy on apathy and irony. Known as a contributor for “The Daily Show” and for his own show “Important Things with Demetri Martin,” Martin has released his first book, aptly titled, “This is a Book.”

The book features a collection of drawings, lists and surreal short stories, some of which are featured in his stand-up act. Whereas other comedians fail to translate their humor into a book because they either veer too heavily into dramatic, maudlin memoir territory or overemphasize their funniness so that it ends up forced, Martin maintains his understated, ironic tone while still managing to pull in some zingers.

Although the book’s lack of a plot or any connective strand may make for a disconnected read, every section has enough humor to forget about such worries. The stories change wildly in idea and structure. There’s the test to see if you are a robot (“Sample question: 0110 10 1110 011 11 1000010111 01? (a) I don’t understand (b) 1011!”) that segues into a FAQ page for a genie in a bottle (“That whole three wishes thing? A myth”) before telling some statistics (“Nearly half of all people in the United States are torsos.”).

Martin also shows a smart, incisive take on a culture obsessed with fame. “Socrates’s Publicist” tells how Socrates was an unemployed philosopher before a publicist made him famous, only to abandon him while on trial because he didn’t pay her. Though outlandish in the context of Ancient Greece, the preying publicist and the hunt for fame are not so far-fetched at a time when Rebecca Black is famous.

At times, his preciousness may get the best of him, such as when he uses blank pages to write “This page is unnecessary.” Despite these missteps, “This is a Book” has a wistful poignancy. At the age of 37, he does not seem to be any better at making decisions or figuring out life than the rest of us. He just so happens to be a lot funnier at trying to do it.

In “How I Felt,” Martin meets a girl at a party — only to realize she has a boyfriend. Although a hackneyed story line, he observes his surroundings and feelings through color — (“When I woke up the next morning I was brown with stubble and rainbow with bruises and hangover.”) Using these colors and breaking down his feelings to their most basic level, Martin describes his thoughts more accurately and genuinely than with bombastic words.

With “This is a Book,” Martin has successfully and hilarious shifted his humor from the stage to the page.