By 6:30 p.m., the line for Demetri Martin wrapped around Paramount Theatre. It was 82 degrees, the sun refused to leave my line of vision, and I was starting to sweat through the dark jeans I seriously regretted wearing within about two minutes.
VIP badge owners breezed past the peasants in the fan badge line. It was 6:45, and our line had not moved. People started sitting on the narrow window ledges fora small respite. The group behind me loudly regretted their failure to pregame.
The following is a breakdown of my evening waiting for and attending Martin’s set at Moontower Comedy Festival.
6:55 p.m.: I want air conditioning. They promised the doors opened at 6. They promised.
7:01 p.m.: There is a sudden rush toward the ticket stand, and people revive themselves to hurry and snatch a flimsy ticket from a patient volunteer. She smiles at everyone and congratulates them on getting tickets before they ran out.
I give my ticket to a small, wrinkled lady with a sharp black suit and red bow tie. Her name tag labels her “FLO.” Flo rips off the ticket stub shakily and hands back my half. “Up the stairs to your left,” she said. “Next.”
7:07 p.m.: I settle into the balcony seat, straining my neck to see above the newsboy hat in front of me. The stage is lit with discotheque-type colors, and varying sizes of round squares cover the background.
7:10 p.m.: Levi MacDougall takes the stage. The people laughing at his jokes are definitely drunk because for five minutes he talks about Swiss cheese. He leavesafter 30 minutes.
7:42 p.m.: Martin strolls onto stage without fanfare. People notice slowly, and the audience cheers roll from scattered yells to theater-wide scream. He waves, and his unassuming wave is accompanied by an unassuming dark gray hoodie. I can’t believe the man is 40. His prepubescent, Justin Bieber hair shines with a glow that can only come from good conditioner and good genes, and he looks like he could be in high school.
Following Martin’s humor is like listening to a slightly inebriated person’s inner monologue. It’s a very intelligent person’s monologue — Martin graduated from Yale in 1995 and rejected Harvard Law School for NYU — so it’s actually funny to listen to him speak. He describes his desire to graffiti street signs as nerdy; he wants to add punctuation to “Right lane must turn right” signs to give it an inquisitive feel: “Right lane must turn, right?”
He rambles from indecisive street signs to his consternation with salads: “Based on their behavior, cherry tomatoes are not interested in participating in the salad.”
Martin hits different topics and takes potentially controversial topics and twists it for the laugh. “You never see black magicians,” Martin said. “If a black guy makes something disappear...” His comedy can’t be labeled as predominantly social commentary, but he throws in enough to make a point.
But then he throws in bits about sticker residue and birds getting uncomfortable with birdwatchers and stays with the whole “does any of this even relate to each other?” theme. He ends with a traditional round of “Good, Bad or Interesting?”
“Stop, drop, and roll. Good: In a fire. Bad: At the top of a stairwell. Interesting: To get out of a conversation,” Martin said.