Date Posted: September 21, 2011
Print Edition: September 14, 2011
Demetri Martin is the kind of comedian that forces you to think. For those who have never heard of Demetri Martin and are wondering what kind of idiot would be a fan of a comedian who makes them think, let me explain.
There are some jokes that are easy. They’re given to audiences on a silver platter with a neon sign and there is little to no involvement on the part of the individual. There are other jokes that are supposed to make people uncomfortable which then forces them to laugh, giving the comedian a response – albeit an awkward one. And then there’s Demetri Martin. The subtlety with which he delivers his material at first makes you wonder if he’s reached his punch line at all, but if you’re an intelligent audience member hoping to do more than just sit next to the drunk guy who laughs at anything anyway, then Demetri Martin is the one for you, especially now that his brilliance is so easily accessible in the form of his first book, This is a Book.
His humour is a mixture of grammar and syntax, what-if situations that no person of average intelligence would ever think about, and flipcharts. Sure, he sounds nerdy, but that’s because he is. In his first book, he gives his reader-audience everything they need to understand it, including directions on “How to Read This Book.” He then begins his first chapter with a few “Announcements” as to how this quasi-show is going to go including, but not limited to, “We do not allow dwarf tossing. If you toss a dwarf, the dwarf will be tossed right back at you, but faster.”
There are a couple of jokes in his stand-up repertoire that seemed to be funny on their own like how A Christmas Carol missed out on one of the ghosts: the ghost of Christmas future perfect, or how he wishes there was a video game where you have to take care of the people who have been shot in the other games. On their own, hilarious, and when expanded upon, you get chapters like “A Christmas Carol (the Deleted Scene)” and “Protagonists’ Hospital.”
Do you ever wonder what a bee sting is like for the bee? Or maybe what it’s like for the friend watching her friend get stung by a bee? Or what it’s like for the magazine with which the bee was struck? Or how the tree felt? Or how the squirrel in the tree felt? Your answers can be found here in the chapter entitled “Bee Sting.”
Do you ever wonder what a calendar for people who don’t like cats would consist of? I never wondered, but now I can’t stop wondering thanks to Demetri.
How about a day in acronyms? An average guy starts his day with “ZZZ” and then both the day and his life end with “RIP,” but don’t worry, everything in between is filled in cryptically enough to make you figure it out on your own.
And how many comedians would devote a chapter to “The Word Awards”? This chapter is a gold mine for English students and for lexophiles alike.
For those hard-core fans that wait with anticipation for his go-to charts, graphs, and diagrams, rest assured. There are more than enough to go around, as well as statistics, ideas, opinions and zingers.
There is almost too much in This is a Book, but at the same time there is never enough. Every time you pick it up, you can expect to laugh or wrinkle in your brow as you ponder over the punch line until you finally get it and laugh not-so-quietly to yourself while sitting alone in a crowded restaurant. Get used to it, because when you pick up Demetri Martin’s This is a Book, you never know what you’re going to get.
If only Forrest Gump could have had this book instead of a box of chocolates.