Published Sep 12, 2015Demetri Martin has always been a man of smarts and simplicity. He prefers clever wordplay to personal reflection and Hedburg-esque one-liners to Maron-ish monologues. He's deadpan, but underneath the straight face and straight bangs is a layer of impishness and quiet charm.
But his latest special, a Netflix-produced hour, feels flat. He's still riffing on idioms ("How bad does a guess have to be for it to be an uneducated guess?") and human behaviour ("When you're trying to tell somebody a letter on the phone, you always pick the first letter of a word, but you could mix it up") but this time it feels a little formulaic.
Martin skips his usual gimmicks — no flip charts here — in favour of stand-up in bite-sized portions, save for a quick set of jokes set to guitar music at the end, but the straightforward nature of Twitter-ready set-up and delivery doesn't necessarily fare well in a bare-bones setting. (Well, as bare bones as a show at DC's Lincoln Theatre can be considered.) Jokes about how gross hot dogs are ("It looks like a severed penis!") don't deserve the applause they get. In Live (At The Time), he's coasting on charm where your average road comic would be blamed for picking low-hanging fruit.
It's not bad, to be sure. There's still some enjoyable goofs here, from an extended set of riffs on the letters of the alphabet and hairless cats, but a strange fixation of fart jokes and too-obvious observations feel off-putting from the normally cerebral comedian. (Netflix)