Wildly popular on college campuses, Demetri Martin is best known as a quirky stand-up comedian. Last year, Comedy Central offered Martin his own show. “Important Things with Demetri Martin” is now entering its second season.
The season premiered on Feb. 4 with the focus of the first show being “Attention.”
What doesn’t seem to be important to the show is how to connect each segment to the others and make the series flow as a whole. Martin begins each episode with his signature wordplay and a drawing, but his familiar “big pad” is now a television screen with pre-drawn images. This may not seem like such a big change, but part of Martin’s charm is in the process of his drawings. Now, because the drawings are already prepared, viewers do not get to watch the drawing take shape.
After the introduction, Martin breaks the rest of the episode into chunks of sketch comedy that fall flat. Either Martin, his team of writers or the actors are dropping the ball. The premise is announced at the start of the scene, and then five minutes of awkwardly unamusing dialogue occurs with silly sight gags. Even clever ideas are flogged like the proverbial dead horse, making continued watching almost unbearable. Between sketches there are moments of stand-up, musical interludes and more drawings.
Martin is a Yale-educated, self-described geek. His normal stand-up reflects this personality. But, “Important Things” falls back onto more random humor and basic sight gags. It doesn’t appear that Martin is really putting his heart into the show.
“I can’t do anything beyond what I think is funny,” Martin said in a conference call.
The show is redeemed when Martin’s signature palindromes, his witty observations and his word games make an appearance. When Martin does stand-up bits in front of the studio audience, there is hope for his show.
“Important Things” and “Mind of Mencia” are Comedy Central’s outlet for trying to find a replacement for “Chappelle’s Show,” canceled after a third, incomplete season.
“It’s very different,” Martin said of his comparison to Dave Chappelle. “It was a fair comparison as far as format, but we’ve sort of migrated away from that.”
In his stand-up, Martin has the potential for as many laughs and quoteable moments as Chappelle. But, Martin’s talent does not shine through in his show, making every viewing a reminder that time would be better spent watching re-runs of specials such as “Demetri Martin: Person” or “If I.”
Luckily, Martin has other things on his plate, including movies, potential book deals and an eventual return to stand-up.