If you have cable, you know Demetri Martin. The New York City-based comedian has appeared in stand-up specials like Premium Blend and Comedy Central Presents
, Flight of the Conchords, commercials for Microsoft, and a plethora of other projects, but he's probably best known for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Last night after his set at my school, we talked the WGA strike, his creative process, and our favorite palindromes. (Mine? "Was it a car or a cat I saw?" His is his own design: "Snub no man. Nice cinnamon buns.")
Demetri Martin: (laughs) Thanks.
ER: So you wanna hear something creepy?
ER: Last week I sent you an email asking you to come to the bar with me and my friends after the show. You never responded.
DM: I'm sorry. I get a lot of emails. I probably didn't even read it.
ER: Well, thanks for sitting down with me anyway. So how is the writer's strike affecting you?
DM: Well, I can't staff my new show on Comedy Central. It's called Important Things With Demetri Martin, and it's coming out next October. I'm producing and writing and can't do anything right now.
ER: That has to be frustrating. What's the show about?
DM: It's about important things. It's a sketch comedy show, and every episode I discuss one new important thing. We're using monologues, sketches, animation, basically every medium possible.
ER: What's the first important thing you've talked about?
ER: Like what about chairs?
DM: There's a lot to be said about chairs. You can sit in chairs. You can relax in chairs. Chairs are important. Chairs are an important thing we talk about.
ER: How'd you come up with that?
DM: To be creative, first I need to be really organized. If my apartment's messy I need to clean it. It's like before you start doing your homework or studying for a test, you have to have a clean room.
ER: Well, mostly I clean my room to put off actually working, but sure. Messy bed, messy head.
DM: Yes. But I generally just start daydreaming, and I get out lots of notebooks and start writing in them. If an idea starts going then I just let it keep leading up to something. Whatever the form is, I'll try to write jokes for it, whether they're drawings or dialogue or stand-up. That's how I come up with jokes like "Me Against You." Or sometimes the idea dictates the form itself.
ER: I noticed your style is really short and sporadic.
DM: I like shorter jokes. I like fewer words. I think the more ideas there are the, the fewer words there should be.
ER: So are you just here for the night?
DM: Yeah, I'm about to go to Columbus tonight to sleep. I'm getting kind of sick.
ER: Is this part of a tour?
DM: Well not really. I'm just doing a bunch of colleges. Over the next few weeks I'm going to L.A., Missouri, Chicago and a bunch of other places. It's only small schools. But in the fall I'm doing a tour, and that's going to include theaters. This is my tenth year doing stand up.
ER: How'd you get involved with The Daily Show?
DM: They called me about two years ago a year and a half ago, maybe and asked me if I wanted to do something with the show, and I said yes, so we came up with Trendspotting. I write it with my friend Rory, who's a producer on the show. We write everything for The Daily Show together. It's great to work with Jon. Jon's very smart. He gives really good notes.
ER: What about Flight of the Conchords?
DM: Oh, yeah, I'm friends with those guys. I met them in Scotland at the Fringe Festival a few years ago. We actually even shared an apartment together for a month in 2004.
ER: AND I heard you know a lot of the people from CollegeHumor.
DM: Yep. I know a lot of those guys from the scene. They're all really good people, very funny, very good at their jobs.
ER: Did you know you're even mentioned in a CollegeHumor Original Video?
ER: Yeah, Streeter Seidell says that he saw you at Whole Foods.
DM: That's really cool. It's nice to know so many funny people.