Capital One Just For Laughs Comedy Tour: Demetri Martin is all killer and no filler

By Alison Sinkewicz

DemitriMartinVANCOUVER — There’s nothing like delivering a killer one-liner during the course of a conversation. It hits like a ton of bricks, the crowd goes wild and you drop the mic in victory leaving behind a forever legacy of hilarity. Unfortunately usually, instead, they laugh, it dwindles and your raging moment of glory quickly passes by.

Imagine though, if you’re a stand-up comic featured on the upcoming Capital One Just for Laughs Comedy Tour, actor, doodler author of books and palindromes Demetri Martin, and you have one full hour, no filler, just the hits. Martin has crafted an expansive career with just a few thousand gut-wrenching one-liners. And it’s no easy feat. Speaking with BeatRoute in-between editing an upcoming project, Martin reveals to us his almost academic process.

“The creative process works for me where sometimes I’ll come up with a joke just while improvising, in conversation with the audience and the first time I say it it’s a little wordier and then I can remember, ‘Oh yea, oh hey, yeah I had an idea today, let me write it down and I can chisel it down.’ And then other times I treat it like an assignment. If I’m on a plane and I’m like, ‘OK, I have a three-hour flight,’ I’ll write as many jokes as I can, go.”

Martin’s unique blend of comedy, music, drawing and off-centre anecdotes help him keep it fresh: “Another thing that helps for me is I do spend a lot of time drawing, just little line drawings. And sometimes I’ll make music even though I’m not so great at it. The act of doing something creative that isn’t specifically writing a joke, it helps keep it rotating the crops a little bit.”

While many comics can launch straight into their distinct style (e.g. “Have you ever noticed…”) Martin is spared that luxury. With no distinct formula, each joke is a freestanding structure, left to the criticism of its predecessors. “In today’s day and age, if you put content out there, it’s out there. People will find it and compare your earlier work and say, ‘Oh I see, that one sounds like this one,’” remarks Martin. “And I try to make them different enough from each other so that I’m OK with them being out next to each other.”

Reflecting on where his more recent successes and pursuits have brought his stand up to, Martin notes: “I think there has been a change for me over the years that I’ve gotten more comfortable improvising and talking with the audience. The stand-up show, or whatever show it is that night, has a structure to it that emerges from being in the room with the crowd. But mostly, at its core, it’s still just jokes.”

Demetri Martin will be touring on the Western leg of the Capital One Just for Laughs Comedy Tour, which begins November 5. Catch him at the Red Deer Memorial Centre (Red Deer) November 7, Jack Singer Concert Hall (Calgary) November 8 the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Edmonton) November 9, the Kelowna Community Theatre (Kelowna) November 12, the Orpheum (Vancouver) November 14, the McPherson Playhouse (Victoria) November 15, and the Bell Performing Arts Centre (Surrey) November 16. Also see our chat with fellow touring comedian Jon Dore here.

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