Judge Daryl Loomis knows the only important things are puppies.
"Siamese twins are really interesting because they're the only people who can write a biography and an autobiography at the same time."
The audience for stand-up comedy is as subjective as you can get. While we can all pretty much agree that Yakov Smirnoff isn't very funny, there are those who like Margaret Cho and Sinbad. While these are people I do not understand, they can't tell me why it's so funny, and nor can I explain why they're wrong (though I try). So it goes with Demetri Martin, a comic I find hysterical, but whom some don't seem to get. Comedy Central has aimed to change that by giving him his own weekly show. While Important Things with Demetri Martin probably will not convince non-believers of Martin's hilarity, those already sold will find two solid hours of laughs.
Facts of the Case
In each of the six uncensored episodes from the first season, Demetri Martin presents one important thing. These important things are:
Like Steven Wright, Demetri Martin's dry, deadpan delivery seems like a strange choice for a half-hour television program, but Important Things works very well. Martin has a weird, nerdy charisma that connects with his hipster audience in a way that's not easy to explain, except that the audience is full of nerds, but he seems at once uncomfortable on stage and at ease with the crowd. How much of this is part of the bit is anybody's guess, but he gives off an inviting, Chess Club kind of feel. He's a one-liner, observational comic onstage, and this is the case in his monologues in the these episodes, but the series isn't just him on stage. Like The Chappelle Show, the apparent template for every successive Comedy Central series, his stand-up is mixed with sketches that fill out a half hour pretty well.
If you like Martin's stage show, you'll like the monologues just fine, but the individual viewer's take on the sketches will make or break the show. I love them, but perhaps readers should know where my sense of humor lies. For those who still watch SNL, my two favorite recurring sketches over the past decade have been "Astronaut Jones" and "Laser Cats," both of which have me in stitches. Likewise, in Important Things, "Joe Pappas: Time Gigolo" is about as ridiculous, and about as funny, as it gets. Not all the sketches work so well—a few are complete duds—but Martin puts all he has into them, showing a talent for physical comedy that isn't readily apparent in his stage act.
Across all the episodes, his jokes are good, but the skits that don't work are overlong and often work off of an already stretched premise, such as "The Revenger" superhero skit. The performances are as solid as any, but the stories feel forced, shoehorned into whatever that episode's particular topic is. However, these are in the minority. Most of the sketches are solid and enjoyable, with three or four that are top notch.
Comedy Central's release of Important Things with Demetri Martin: Season One is solid all the way around. All six episodes come on a single disc. This is an inexpensive show, so the video and audio aren't the best, but they accurately represent the original broadcast of the show. The image is mostly digital video, which all looks fine, and some is shot in 8mm film, which is grainy and washed out, but this is its intention. The sound is unspectacular, but clear and identical to the original broadcast. For extras, we get a poster and a sticker inside the case, audio commentaries on various episodes with Martin and two of the producers, fairly boring overall, and about twenty minutes of deleted footage that, while often pretty funny, clearly didn't belong in the finished episodes.
Your enjoyment of Important Things with Demetri Martin will depend entirely on how you feel about the comic. Do you like jokes about graphs, alternative word meanings, and time travel? If so, you'll probably love the show. If you believe that comedy should involve the smashing of fruit, however, you may be better served with a different show.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Episode Commentary
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