I asked to review this second season premiere because recently I've been doing a lot of thinking about Demetri Martin, and comedy in general. What I mentioned in my review of the pilot is still true: I find some of what he does interesting, surprising, and of course funny, and some just plain obnoxious. But I'm extremely grateful he's around. He's different, and in the world of comedy, "different" is a quality that's rarer than you'd think. And you can talk about comedy all you want, but when you get right down to it, the only surefire way to get people to laugh is to surprise them—whatever that means to each comic and audience member. So even though his jokes are sometimes a little too "wah waaaah" for me (or, if that's too confusing, "ba dum, ching"), I wanna applaud his choice to do his own thing, even if some people find it weird.
Ideally, Important Things With Demetri Martin would be the perfect vehicle for his comedy, but as I noted before, the first season was unfortunately marred by being a vehicle for the worst parts of his comedy. I'm thrilled to report that in its second season, many of the problems have been fixed. The show is still divided between stand-up segments and video sketches, and it seems the editors decided to let the jokes in the former speak for themselves more. No more weird cutting to canned laughing people; those segments have a much better flow. I'm still not wild about many of the jokes, because even despite the more natural editing Martin has opted for very short jokes, thus interrupting his own flow. The best bits are the slightly longer ones, like the escalation of trying to get someone's attention by preceding statements with "look," then "listen," and finally, "smell." He also mixes up the straight stand-up with twee hand-drawn power point slides (not so great) and segments like "Good, Bad, Interesting" (much better).
Speaking of escalation, the sketches are so much better than before. Short bits, like watching a guy in a grape costume take the post-Halloween walk of shame, are just as long as they need to be—a few seconds. Longer sketches build nicely and find new ways to surprise us as they go on. My favorite was a fake TV show called "Bruce The Funny Dog" which started as an excuse to put silly wigs and glasses on a dog, then turned into Martin's character trying to have a serious talk with Bruce about when it's appropriate to be funny. (I also giggled long and hard at the name Bruce. I mean, who names their dog Bruce?!?) Another was a sketch scored with a song by Martin about how he was talking to a guy at a party and he didn't know his name, which showed the great lengths he'll go to get out of introducing this mysterious person to anyone.
Martin's adept at coming up with odd premises for his sketches and stand-up, and the one lesson he can learn from Important Things is that when given room to breathe, those ideas are a welcome breath of fresh air in the comedy world. Comedy Central still has a little tinkering to do, but here's hoping the show becomes something other weirdo comics out there can aspire to.
- Whoa, was that Charles Widmore there in the henchmen sketch? Nice. Though he'll always be Caleb Nichol to me.
- "Flag enhancer"
- Also, nice job with the little videos that bring us in and out of commercial breaks. Little touches like that really bring the show together for me.