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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Direct from a sell-out run in New York's UCB theatre, Demetri Martin's one-man show 'If I' is 'sublime, brilliant and thought-provoking'. Winner of the Jury Award for best show at this year's US Comedy Arts Festival.
Hot from the Aspen comedy festival, Demetri Martin was hailed as the discovery of Edinburgh almost from day one, providing a backdrop of raised expectations it's hard to live up to.
The deafening buzz came from his unique approach to his art, and his life. Basically, he's a geek - which may not be all that that distinctive, given the number of comics who alk about Star Wars - but Martin takes nerdiness to the nth degree.
He's written a 224-word palindrome for starters, and it even has some sort of coherence. Other achievements include writing a poem using only the words on a bottle of Rolling Rock beer, creating fiendishly complex 3D crosswords and unicycling.
Talents, admittedly, but not exactly useful ones - and there's plenty more where that came from. So this is what Mensa members do all day.
Realising his own failings, and inspired by the Socrates maxim that "the unexamined life is not worth living", he tried to take a long, hard look at his life and seek to improve it. But he's a geek, so he devised a needlessly complex points system - trying to apply mathematical certainties to the unpredictability of existence. It didn't improve matters - and he can even put an empirical figure on exactly how ineffective it was.
If I... (a much less ambitious palindrome than his piece de resistance) is the comic result of this self-analysis, with Martin trying to share the obsession he has with himself with audiences.
Disappointingly, he employs that most tedious fallback of uninspired speech-writers everywhere: basing his monologue around a dictionary definition. Taking the various meanings of the word 'if' as chapter headings, he confesses to his obsessive existence.
It provides the framework for a surprisingly warm, touching piece. Martin presents an adorably vulnerable persona, and he's clearly applied his intelligence to his stand-up, crafting some fantastic lines - most notably about swimming and the phrase 'sort of...'
Yet despite the offbeat ideas, Martin's natural, underplayed likeability, and neat touches such as the story told through a cartoon strip, the show just doesn't seem funny enough.
Martin is a genius who does comedy, yet to prove that he's comedy genius. Perhaps it's an indication of the dearth of original, intelligent voices at Edinburgh that once we hear one, it is hailed as the saviour of comedy. Martin's not that, but he's a quirky cut above the rest.
Just seen him on FTN fantastic really helped me to understand semiotics alot more than I did before. Witty, alive and funny it's about time we had something to laugh about that's on my wavelength.
I saw his show in New York, and I loved it. It's one of the most original pieces of comedy out there.
Preferred his 15 min set's at Spinning Wheel and The Free Beer show than his 1 hour epic. Tha question is will he just whisk the Perrier Award back to the USA and say "I went to the little Island and look what they gave me!"
There are some good moments, but a whole hour of this guy is way too much. He is original. But his arrogance comes through. Why is he getting such hooplah? It's the good old story that when you have money and power behind you, you get all the hoopla.
Inventive, creative and thought - provoking. Demitri's obsessions are now mine. A tight, funny, intelligent show. Go see!