Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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By Cory J. Willey

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Comedian Demetri Martin will be bringing his multifaceted, one-liner-driven standup to the Calvin Theater in Northampton this Wednesday for one of the first few stops on his “Point Your Face At This” tour, which promotes his book of the same title.

Martin is well known for his seemingly endless supply of dry one-liners and witty observations on everyday life, as well as his implementation of drawings and music into his act, something he says grew out of the idea for his standup to be a lot like a one-man show. In an interview with the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, he said he started out just telling jokes and personal stories, but as he went forward with his career he found it more fun and interesting to experiment a little with the content and see what that might yield.

While this tour is primarily to promote the new book, it is also an opportunity for Martin to try out new material. Since finishing his last special, “Demetri Martin Standup Comedian,” he has been writing an all new act, which he will be testing out and tinkering with as the tour moves forward.

“A big part of being a standup comedian, for me, is going through life daydreaming, thinking about life, and spending a lot of time alone writing down jokes,” said Martin. He also said that he enjoys improvising as a way of testing out new material, just as much as coming up with ideas on his own.

While describing his style, Martin said he comes more from a writer’s background than a performer’s, something that led to him working on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” as a writer from 2003 to 2004, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as a correspondent, and eventually to his own show, “Important Things with Demetri Martin,” which aired on Comedy Central from 2009 to 2010.

He said that while most of the material for his show just came from ideas he would come up with, some of it would happen spontaneously in front of the studio audience. He also explained that working on these different shows helped him to learn to write for a deadline, a very useful skill for someone involved in so many different projects.

If he’s not working on his standup, which was his first love, Martin is hard at work on numerous other projects. He has written two books now, “This Is A Book,” which was a mix of narrative essays, short stories, one-liners and drawings, and the forthcoming “Point Your Face At This,” which is full of one-liners, drawings, short prose and poetry.  Now he is hard at work on a third, which will be comprised entirely of writing, ranging from prose to short stories and fiction, which will vary in length.

On top of that he has recently appeared in films such as “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Contagion,” and “Taking Woodstock,” and has sold two screenplays, “Will” and “Moon People.”

With so much going on, the comedian says he is never hesitant to take on a new project or a new challenge, even if he knows that means potentially becoming buried in deadlines, which he likens to being back in school and having assignments due; you feel awful while you’re working to get them done but when they are you feel a great sense of relief.

When asked if he preferred performing at larger or smaller venues, Martin said he preferred medium-sized venues (a response he deemed to be a cop out.) He said if the venue is too big it feels like he is just standing up there making announcements and if it’s too small it can be a little strange, like he is in someone’s living room.

“Telling a joke is like scaring birds,” he said. “If there’s one or two pigeons they might see you and not give a sh*t, but if there’s too many, one might get skittish and then they all might fly away.”

Martin will be performing at the Calvin at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets are still available for $32 online on the Calvin Theater’s website.

Cory Willey can be reached at [email protected]

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