Demetri Martin riffs on ‘Important Things’

Armed with a large pad of paper and a slew of musical instruments, New Jersey native Demetri Martin unloaded his arsenal of quick-hitting, side-splitting comedy onto a sold-out Kendall Hall crowd last Tuesday.

“I prefer college crowds and I feel lucky that I get to do shows at colleges,” Martin said. “The college crowds are really supportive and usually really patient and encouraging so if I want to try something new or different, college crowds are good to try it on.”

Martin unleashed line after line of his latest edition of dry, observational comedy, leaving his fellow statesmen repeating his one-liners as they exited the building last Tuesday night. His short jokes clearly packed a punch, moving quickly from his lips to the funny bones of students who left Martin with a standing ovation as he exited the stage.

Martin opened the show by commenting on what has become a favorite topic of visiting comedians, the College’s seemingly generic name. Referring to the “The College of New Jersey” as “the laziest college title ever,” Martin suggested the name be changed to “One of the colleges found in New Jersey,” a more fitting name, but a more difficult title to fit on a sweatshirt.

Martin continued his set with a combination of College-related observations and jokes used in his TV show, “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” As he discussed yearbook photos and how the large hair of his high school classmates did not fit in the normal-sized frames, a piece of paper was thrown on stage. When he learned that it was in fact his eighth grade class picture, Martin appropriately said, “You fucking psycho.”

After touching on topics such as how black and white cookies should be segregated and how his peanut butter allergy could be his immediate demise, Martin moved to his famous large pad of paper, which housed his latest drawings. Such works of art he had recently created backstage included blueprints for a baby silencer, an inverse juggler and a graph regarding the funniness of karaoke.

The set then moved to Martin playing guitar and piano while still telling jokes. Martin strummed notes and tapped keys as he listed interesting ways to propose. “You could go out with your lady, walk up to a tree, and then you climb up a tree and the ring’s in the tree and you say ‘will you marry me?’ . and you’re dressed like a bird,” he said.

The Toms River native finished the show with a few older jokes and then left the stage to catch a train he nearly missed afterward.

The show opened with a short set performed by senior philosophy major Kevin “Vegas” Lancaster, an amateur comedian who was well received by the audience. As he discussed John McCain and ways to be passive-aggressive, his spastic and slapstick comedy had the hall laughing and warmed up for the upcoming acts.

“With such a welcoming, cheering, laughing, supportive crowd, I felt wonderfully confident on stage,” Lancaster said. “I really appreciate the support I’ve gotten from the College community. Without that I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. It’s difficult for me to tell how a performance goes, and I’m usually harshly critical of myself, but I really think I genuinely entertained 800 people that night.”

Following Lancaster was Hannibal Burress, a featured comedian on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and an opener chosen by Martin himself. As the comic commented on the lack of African Americans in the room and how his love for apple juice overtook his ability to notice racial intolerance in a supermarket, the crowd roared with laughter, giving him a warm welcome.

?”I think this was one of the best comedy shows in my four years at (the College).? I think students will remember this as the show that they chose since we sent out a survey at the beginning of the year,” College Union Board Director Katerina Gkionis said. “(Martin) was the top choice on the survey and we were able to bring him here. With him being from New Jersey, it was exciting to have one of our own at the College.”

Christina Burt, the organizer of the event said, “It was so exciting having such a big name comedian from New Jersey come to the College. We’ve been throwing his name around in CUB for a few years and we were all really happy that he was able to come.”

Bobby Olivier can be reached at