STUDIO: Comedy Central
RUNNING TIME: 154 Minutes
11 Unaired sketches (one with commentary)
Demetri’s production charts
Commentary on selected episodes
It’s kinda like Sesame Street for the mumblecore crowd.
Regulars: Demetri Martin, H. Jon Benjamin, Berry Carl
Guests: A whole bunch of random people.
Demetri Martin picks a topic (the titular important thing) and proceeds to deconstruct it in thoughtful, clever, and (usually) humorous ways.
Important Things, indeed.
Demetri Martin’s biggest asset is probably his ability to make the inaccessible seem accessible. He’s not your typical modern comedian, relying on overplayed jokes and easy observations to broaden his appeal. He’s a really smart guy who bases his humor in language and philosophy and music and a LOT of math. And granted, most times the jokes and observations are immature and simplistic, but the balance works. Sometimes the joke is just putting nipples on a 3, but the way he presents it, and his intentions for doing so, are what elevate the entire thing.
You get a nice glimpse of it if you’ve seen his “Person” special on Comedy Central, but he brings it to this show in a lot of different ways. Because of the format he’s able to do a lot more visually – using bumps and segues and sketches to illustrate his points to far greater effect than if he had just stood on a stage for thirty minutes.
Gen-X Scanners didn’t really have a lot of ambition or drive.
Now, as for the show itself – it’s really good. Almost great, even. Demetri’s brand of humor is able to really be stretched into new dimensions and it’s extremely entertaining. I don’t know if “funny” is the right word as I very rarely actually laughed out loud (but when I did it was usually one of those things that had me giggling for the next ten minutes), but it kept me engaged and incredibly entertained. Part of it is the low-budget presentation. The set is almost entirely wood paneling, without any fancy dressing or monitors or lights and the graphics are all hand-drawn by (usually) Demetri. There’s a little bit that he does in every episode where he draws buttons on note cards with different options and his “pressing” of those buttons is what triggers a transition between scenes. It’s clever and because of the ubiquity of it, it’s able to have a nice place in the show, never feeling like a gimmick that you grow tired of. The same can be said for pretty much everything in the show – it all feels like Demetri and there isn’t a trace of pretense or irony to any of it. I don’t wanna oversell it – it doesn’t always work and it may be TOO low-key for a lot of people, but I dig it. He’s a really smart, really low-key guy and I’m glad his show got picked up for a second season. This is probably the best thing to hit Comedy Central since Chappelle’s Show.
The box art is really simple, obviously – with Demetri just standing there in front of a nondescript wood-paneled wall, the text logo superimposed on top of him. It’s nice and it sells the tone of the show really well.
Tarantino started a whole new wave of revisionist history in filmmaking.
In the features department, there are a lot of un-aired sketches, most of them because they just didn’t quite work. There’s a commentary on one of them and it pretty much says just that, but there’s something endearing about hearing two guys (Martin and one of the writers) talk about how they screwed something up. The commentaries on the selected episodes are nice as well – everybody involved seems really enthusiastic and humble and you can tell that they just really love working on the show. Good stuff all the way around.
I also wanna make a quick mention of the main menu. There’s no animation and no flashy graphics. There’s just a still image of Demetri sitting on set with various items around him. Those items represent the different episodes on the disc and clicking one of them will start its respective episode. It’s a clever idea with an equally clever execution and does a little more to sell Martin’s sense of humor. I really like it.