Demetri Martin brought his unique sense of humor to Northampton

By Cory J. Willey

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Demetri Martin brought his unique brand of humor to the Calvin Theatre on Wednesday, marking Northampton as one of the first stops on his Point Your Face This tour.

Levi MacDougall, Martin’s opening act, was a writer on Martin’s former Comedy Central show, “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” The show ran for just over a year and ended in 2010. As Martin introduced MacDougall to the audience, he joked that the show was “unfairly cancelled.” MacDougall’s set paired well with Martin’s act, displaying a similar straight-faced delivery style while discussing subtle observations about everyday life.

That being said, MacDougall definitely has his own style, telling longer stories and building to punch lines that seem to come out of nowhere. MacDougall’s set ended with his party trick, “The Beer Unicorn,” which like many of his stories throughout his act ended quite differently than one might’ve expected.

Wasting no time at all, Martin quickly took to the stage after MacDougall’s set, bringing his famous sketchpad “Large Pad” with him. He began by commenting on his ability to fill five-eighths of the Calvin Theatre. “The only five-eighths that matter!” he said. He also spent quite a bit of time expressing sarcastic joy that one of the seats directly in front of the stage was empty, prompting one nearby audience member to fill the vacancy with their bag. Martin responded by thanking the woman and explaining that he would now be accepting inanimate objects as part of his fan-base.

Martin brought out quite a bit of new material in his usual style of deadpan one-liners and very short anecdotes. The comic seemed very comfortable and confident in his new jokes, delivering them as easily as his older material. He kept the audience laughing the entire time, warming them up for an old favorite – the “Large Pad” sketch.

While he has used the sketchpad quite a bit in the past, fans are never disappointed to see it. In fact,, they’ve come to expect it. He displayed his usual ability to create simple graphs and charts of “data” that worked incredibly well. By far the most popular of these drawings was the “Laughing & Peeing” chart, which he originally debuted on his TV show. Here he breaks down the appropriateness of these two actions, which varies based on whether a person is alone versus in a group as well as with the order in which the two actions occur. For example, Martin outlined with his chart that it was craziest for a group to pee together and then all start laughing at having done so.

One of his simpler graphs was about animals that pray, and this graph perfectly demonstrated Martin’s skill at drawing out big laughs through simple observations. The graph in question showed that humans and mantises prayed the most. Martin explained that he’d never heard of an “Agnostic Mantis” or a “Not-Really-Sure-Still-Thinking-About-It Mantis.”

Following the “Large Pad” sketch Martin went back to the new material he had left, mixing it up by frequently and expertly interacting with the audience.

At one point, Martin found a man in the audience who had a job making up trivia questions and answers. Martin asked him to come up with a couple of trivia questions which he and the audience enjoyed trying to answer.

Later, Martin asked the audience if they wanted to talk about anything. This prompted the audience to shout out conversation topics, and discussions ranged from Martin’s experience turning down an audition for Saturday Night Live to how to use a lint-roller. The topics started to get out of hand a little when the audience started trying to one-up one another with suggestions to talk about wet socks, Dane Cook and North Korea. Eventually, Martin quelled the noise by transitioning into his final joke, which he described as an older joke that people seem to like. He told his very popular “Straws & Ice” joke, in which he describes the frustration and embarrassment he feels when his straw and ice betray him in social situations. It was a strong finish full of laughs.

Overall, the show was a success regardless of the number of seats filled. Often, earlier tour dates can mean the audiences is treated to a special show because the comedian is still testing out new material. Martin offered an excellent opportunity for fans to interact with him as well as offer feedback on new jokes. For returning fans, the show was a hilarious combination of new jokes and old favorites, and Martin’s set certainly exemplified his unique comic styles and talents.

Cory Willey can be reached at [email protected].