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Review: 'Important Things With Demetri Martin'

February 10, 2009 |  5:46 pm

Important Comedian Demetri Martin is a clever fellow who has been coming into pop-cultural focus over the last few years, most visibly as a semi-regular on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." He has also appeared in videos for Fountains of Wayne and Travis and in the first-season finale of "Flight of the Conchords" as a replacement Conchord and eventual member of the Crazy Dogggz. Ang Lee cast him as the star of his next film, "Taking Woodstock." He is currently on the cover of New York magazine, and Friday he'll play a sold-out show here at the Music Box @ Fonda. It is a good time to be him.

Now he has his own series, “Important Things With Demetri Martin,” produced by Stewart's Busboy Productions and beginning tonight on Comedy Central. It alternates in-studio stand-up with taped sketches and animations; each episode -- there will be six -- is built around a theme. (The two available for review were "Timing" and "Power.") Though Martin comes from a generation for whom irony is a form of straightforwardness, I don't think he's kidding about the "important": There is in his deadpan humor a kind of gee-whiz winsomeness, a willingness to be amazed at the way things work, and don't.

Although he used to address trends on "The Daily Show," for the most part his is a comedy that is cut loose in time. It's cerebral -- Martin is a full-bore nerd, a law school dropout who writes palindromes and makes puzzles -- a kind of comedy of semiotics, exploiting the ambiguities and loopholes in words and symbols. (Which is to say, it's a form of philosophy.)

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