With a hit TV show under his belt and a new movie in theaters this month, comedian Demetri Martin isnt going anywhere anytime soon.
DEMETRI MARTIN LOVES PALINDROMES. He sports a lame Beatles haircut, as he calls it. Yet this self-described nerd, however improbably, has a career in comedy and feature films that is exploding. In less than a decade, the 36-year-old has gone from telling jokes in empty dives to doing successful stand-up, writing for Late Night with Conan OBrien, appearing regularly on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, hosting his own Comedy Central series called Important Things with Demetri Martin (which returns next year), and, now, starring in a major motion picture. On the eve of his star-making performance in Ang Lees new film, Taking Woodstock, wed like to share some important things about Martin.
HE HAS GOALS. Im trying to get into shape. Ive never really exercised much, so Im trying to get my mind and body into harmony. And I really want to learn how to play drums. Im also really into learning to do things with my nondominant hand. Wait until you see what I can do with my left hand -- in a few months.
HES FRIENDS WITH OTHER COMEDIANS -- BUT ONLY THE NICE ONES. There are miserable, tears-of-a-clown type comedians, and there are these guys who are just so angry about everything, and then there are guys who have a bottomless need for approval and are dying for everybody to love them, so theyre on all the time. I find all of that very exhausting. I try to hang out with nice people. A lot of them are comedians. When we are having dinner together, we look like nice people having dinner together, and then we go and do our shows. But we take off our bibs first.
HES A NERD BUT A WELL-ROUNDED ONE. If you have a passionate interest in a certain area, youre probably a nerd. Maybe youre really into music and you know a lot about it. You dont necessarily play it, but youre the go-to guy for information about it. Youre probably a music nerd. Im more of a standard nerd. Im kind of nomadic. If I get into science, Ill read six books about physics all in a row, because I find it interesting. And then Ill spend a month playing the drums.
HE CAN APPRECIATE OTHER PERSPECTIVES. I get asked a lot of the same questions [in interviews] about things that happened a long time ago. That means I have to tell the same old story over and over again. I see that as a chance to view my life from different angles. If you live in a certain neighborhood long enough, you come up with the default ways of getting from A to B. This media attention has required that I pay attention to different ways home. It keeps things interesting.
HE FINDS HIS OWN INSPIRATION. Im not the satirical, take my wife, ripped-from-the-headlines guy. I think about chairs and bags and dogs and word games, which means, hopefully, Ill always have plenty of fresh material. I dont read newspapers to find jokes. I just take a walk or close my eyes real tight.
HES LEARNING TO LOVE THE PROCESS. In stand-up, I know whether Im good or bad every 30 seconds. With Taking Woodstock, Ill never know if Im good. I can only hope that Im good. I cant read every review. I cant be in every theater with every audience. It requires, for me, that I focus more on the process. Thats a good thing. In comedy, your punch line is always the destination. Acting is more of a process. You have to enjoy the process.
HES A FREE SPIRIT. Ive always tried to follow my bliss. Its worked out well.