Despite being in the middle of finishing his new book, a pilot for FOX and working on his screenplay, Demetri Martin found 15 minutes for the CU Independent
to promote his “Telling Jokes in Cold Places” tour, which will come to Macky on Thursday night. Martin has been involved with “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, “Important Things with Demetri Martin”, a couple of comedy specials and the Ang Lee movie, “Taking Woodstock”. The comedian, writer, musician, and actor talks about working in comedy, Jazz, and figuring out when to drop out of Law School to write jokes.
Demetri Martin sat down with the CUI to discuss his "Telling Jokes in Cold Places" comedy tour which comes to Macky on Thursday. (Courtesy: Demetri Martin)
CU Independent: Is it hard to come up with new material now that you’ve been involved in so many projects?
Demetri Martin: I usually write every day; some jokes, I work on book stuff and screenplays. I draw and stuff. It’s just about focusing energy a little more exclusively on stand-up. It’s just kind of part of my regular routine.
CUI: What do you think the difference is between being a funny guy and being a comedian?
Martin: It comes down to an awareness of who you’re being funny in front of. If you’re not a funny person then you’re not going around trying to sell your comedy. If you’re not trying to do that then you don’t have to think much about your audience, because you’re probably hanging out with your friends or at a party where you know them. People who are doing it professionally become aware, “Oh this is a club crowd tonight,” or “This is a nursing home. This is going to be a little different crowd.”
CUI: When did you realize you made the right decision in pursuing comedy?
Martin: Well it comes down to my best chance of feeling enjoyment in life. I think about what I have to do each day and then see what I’m looking forward to. If I don’t have anything I am looking forward to for days in a row then that’s a sign that I’ve made a mistake and I am doing something that’s wrong for me. That’s kind of how I ended up with stand-up. I had a bunch of days in a row in law school where I’d wake up and wouldn’t look forward to what I was doing. It was like, nobody’s making me do this. At the end of the day I am making myself do it. So I need to take some responsibility here for what I’m going after, and then once I figured out a way to make money then I was totally free. While I was at school, some people seemed like they found their thing. They liked talking about the law and arguing. It seemed like they’d figured it out. For me I was like…yeah…I’m not. I found the answer: I really like to write jokes, now I’ve got to go find a way to make money doing it. It’s like dreams become plans and you’re on your way.
CUI: Pretty early in your career you worked for the Daily Show. What was that like?
Martin: I was an intern at the Daily Show, but that was when Craig Kilborn was the host. It was really early, like the first or second year of that show. Later, after I’d been a writer with Conan for a year, the Daily Show called my manager at the time and said, “Do you want to come in and talk to them about doing a segment on the show?” So it was cool; I got to go in, pitch my own ideas, write, and co-produce my segments. It was pretty fun. At the same time I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about politics. I don’t enjoy politics. My material doesn’t usually come from that place. I was grateful when I got to participate in that show, but I didn’t feel like that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I like to do jokes more about objects or experiences. I’m not adept to the news. So I felt more like an employee than the way I feel when I do stand-up, which is just me out there doing my own thing.
CUI: Who are your favorite people in comedy right now?
Martin: There’s a guy named Daniel Kitson . He’s an English comedian who I really like. I am still a big Woody Allen fan. I enjoyed “Midnight in Paris”. I get a little saturated with stand-up. Once you do it for a while you’re kind of comedy-ed out. So I don’t know, my relationship with stand-up is probably different from someone who hasn’t been to many stand-up shows, because it’s not quite as appealing as a leisure activity. It’s my job, so I don’t consume as much comedy as I did when I started.
CUI: What are your plans for after the tour?
Martin: I have to hand in a pilot to FOX for a new show and I’m going to write a screenplay. The book I’m writing is due during the tour, so I hope to get an extension. So the first thing’s the book, then the pilot, and then screenplay. Then maybe I’ll get to be home for a while.
Demetri Martin’s “Telling Jokes in Cold Places” will be at Macky Auditorium Feb. 2nd at 8pm. Tickets are $39.50.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Anne Robertson at Anne.email@example.com.