Saturday, October 20, 2007

Demetri Martin: Spiritual Successor to Mitch Hedberg


I recently heard an entertaining and informative interview with Demetri Martin on NPR the other day and I thought I'd do a quick write-up on him. Martin recently premiered an amusing comedy special on Comedy Central called "Person." He attended Yale and went to NYU law school (one of the country's best) for two years before dropping out and devoting his life to comedy. It takes balls to give up a sure thing for a shot at your dreams, and I salute Martin for trying. His success has yielded him a gig on the Daily Show and apparently there are talks for him to get his own series soon.

I wasn't always a fan of Martin; his style was a bit too aloof, a bit too smug for my tastes, and I questioned his use of musical instruments to his act. Does it really add that much? I, for one, am a bit of a purist when it comes to these things. If I'm going to see a comedy show, I expect one guy to talk for 90 minutes without the aid of props, damn it! But over time, Martin has found himself in my good graces; I now consider myself a mild fan.

Martin has a rapid-fire style of comedy that is very similar to a beloved, recently-deceased comedian called Mitch Hedberg. It's an observational humor, a blink-and-you'll-miss it type of humor that makes light of our every day conceptions and experiences. There's no other way to describe it other than to show you, so here's a clip:


Click here for the clip

What I like about Hedberg is that there's no pretension to his work. By all accounts, it's just a guy sharing about some hilarious things he's noticed during the course of his life. Here's another clip:


Click here for the clip

Martin has a similar style, but with an air of elitism that comes from a privileged background (and not one that was a result of a massive intake of drugs). Martin also infuses his character with a social awkwardness that belies his mastery of comedy and the crowds that he performs for. Check out this clip from his recent comedy special:

Click here for the clip

Am I just imagining things, or are their styles strikingly similar? Here's one more clip:

Click here for the clip

None of this is to complain. We could all used a bit more Mitch Hedberg in our lives and I feel like Demetri Martin provides it for us, in a slightly tweaked and personalized form. But the striking similarities suggest some degree of inspiration going on behind the scenes, and is definitely a fascinating process.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

none of the videos work on that...

benjamin said...

mitch hedberg is a thousand times funnier than demetri martin will ever be (dare i say infinitely funnier) they are not in the same league, man...hedberg's style and delivery is punchy and hysterical, martin's is mediocre and self-conscious. it's very sad mitch hedberg is no longer here to keep us laughing...

Anonymous said...

I agree that Demetri is similar in that he has pithy one-liners that observes life in its absurdity, but I would say the similarity ends there. There's an aliveness to Demetri's work that Mitch did not have. A sweetness and an intelligence which is entirely his. If you just like silliness, I get why one would prefer Mitch. But Demetri is silly+thoughtful... I prefer that. he's more Wes Anderson, and Mitch is more Farrelly brothers...

Anonymous said...

the only thing similar between the two is that martin stole mitch's escalator joke.

dead c said...

I've also noticed a bit of sampling from Steven Wright's material. I've met Mitch and he was very unpretentious. Demetri does stand out from a lot of comedians out there, but I still feel, at least at this point in his career, that he is is not to the level of either Wright or Hedberg. Plus, he has a real Emo Philips vibe to him.

Anonymous said...

I'm definately a hardcore Mitch Hedberg fan. That man was a genius of comedy, beyond belief amazing!
Demetri Martin is a different comedian, but certainly not a bad one. I agree with this line that one person on here wrote: "Demetri is similar in that he has pithy one-liners that observes life in its absurdity". They're both out there to entertain us. Mitch lives on through memories, cds, recordings and shows. Martin is rising up to the challenge of Hedberg's shadow, and doing just fine.

Anonymous said...

It's all just a big blatant rip-off of Steven Wright meets Mitch Hedberg!! PERIOD! He should really work on originality.