With his unique brand of observational humour, Demetri Martin has conquered stand up stages the world over. Last gracing Australian shores in 2006 where he took out the Barry award at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, his return shows in Melbourne last week attracted large crowds of devoted fans who have followed his career from afar.
This reviewer saw his Barry award winning show Dr Earnest Parrot Presents at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006. A theatrical comedy, Martin roamed the stage with a dynamic energy, recounting a story of long lost love with the aid of songs, old photographs and hand-drawn maps depicting forests and fantastical imaginary landscapes.
His show at the Princess Theatre on Friday night saw a return to a more traditional stand up format, bringing his unique slant on the mundane to a barrage of rapid fire punchlines, leaving the audience exhausted from laughing.
Martin has always been the master of twisting observational comedy in order to subvert expectation. His jokes range from topics such as 'how it's impossible to put handcuffs on a one armed man' and 'a diagram of things that pray – humans and mantises'. But he is equally adept at slower, anecdotal material, as a foray into a ill-fated TV appearance early in his career demonstrated.
At times it appeared he was trying out new ideas, also riffing off the audience to varying levels of success. But the adoring crowd, familiar with his style, were more than willing to support his meandering flights of improvisation. Martin also demonstrated his impressive skills on the piano and guitar, presenting one of his trademark, harmonica laden joke songs.
Martin is a comic who is completely at ease with himself and his audience, though at times he seemed laconic to the point of tiredness. Although he has built a career on his deadpan delivery, the overall show could have benefited from some shifts in tone.
Gone is the intensely self-aware story-based material, bristling with existential angst and heartbreak and in its place is a mature stand up, doing what he does best – and that is telling jokes.
Venue: The Forum | 154 Flinders St, Melbourne
Dates/Time: 7pm, 31 Aug – 2 Sep, 2011
Bookings: 03 9299 9860