Photo Courtesy of Zain Sharif

On Wed., Apr. 3, nationally famous stand-up comedian Demetri Martin performed at Atlanta’s historic Punch Line Comedy Club. The show was part of the book tour for his bestseller Point This At Your Face. Martin entertained a sold out crowd for over an hour and delivered new jokes to his fans. Throughout his career, which currently spans over the last decade, Martin has helped redefine comedy by refusing to conform to the classic ebb-and-flow of the standard stand-up performance.

Martin was raised in New Jersey and graduated from Yale University. He went on to law school at NYU and was eventually accepted into Harvard Law School. In his final year of law school, Martin decided to pursue comedy.

Martin has helped redefine comedy by refusing to conform

He received his first big break when he appeared on Comedy Central’s sidesplitting stand-up showcase Premium Blend. Martin began his mainstream career writing for Late Night with Conan O’ Brien and continued his comic endeavors by contributing to American politically satirist Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Once Martin reached relative popularity, he had his own special on Comedy Central Presents. He then went on to land his very own Comedy Central TV show, Important Things With Demetri Martin, and eventually began writing and touring. Since then, Martin built up his acting career as well, starring in such films as Taking Woodstock and the recent thriller Contagion.

Martin stopped by Decatur for a book signing, and at the show he recounted a funny incident with a rude 9-year-old heckler. Martin also returned for an extra 15 minutes of comedy in an effort to promote his new book. He spent another hour after the show signing books and taking pictures with his fans, at a time when most comedians would have retired for the night to their hotel room or tour bus.

Demetri Martin is possibly one of the most unconventional comedians of the modern era. He does not conform to the Carlin-inspired stand-up delivery and flow that audiences have come to expect. He does not tell stories, nor does he go on political rants or resort to vulgarity. He rarely swears. Rather, he is known for the rare one-liner comedies with almost no segue way between jokes. His thoughts are sporadic, unrelated and often draw hilarity from the audience. The late Mitch Hedburg most notably employed this style, and Demeteri Martin has credited Hedburg’s influence in his career. Martin continues to show how he is far from being a comedic traditionalist through his use of visual aids like his famous “large pad,” on which he pitches random jokes through elementary drawings and graphs. He will even go as far doing demonstrations like drawing and writing something with both hands. He tells jokes along with a guitar, harmonica, piano, bells, ukulele or tambourine, and he often plays multiple instruments at once. Martin is the kind of comedian you could take the family to see without worrying about embarrassing questions on the ride home (at least not too many).

Martin’s employment of a stoic persona gives a certain wry wittiness to his jokes

Martin’s style is distinct among comedians and performers today. At first glance, his slowed and understated delivery highlights him as a comedian that might appeal to a niche audience. A first-timer at Martin’s style of comedy may remark, “It’s just so random.” That, however, is exactly where the beauty lies. Martin’s employment of a stoic persona gives a certain wry wittiness to his jokes, and he scarcely builds up to his punch lines. For example, he states, “I try to have a breath mint when my breath stinks. But I just end up biting it. And then it’s gone immediately and my breath still stinks… But that one molar smells incredible.”

At Punch Line, Martin brought what the audience wanted. He deployed his uncommon sense of humor upon the crowd—personifying different objects and animals and creating hypothetical conversations between them. He delivered his simple jokes on everyday observations and personal experiences to get the crowd roaring with laughter. He is a truly funny person and seems to have found his calling with stand up.