‘Demetri Martin: Demetri Deconstructed’ Review: An Extremely Funny, Genre-Bending Standup

In recent years, Netflix has not only successfully promoted stand-up comedy as a global form of entertainment, but it has also managed to help this very exciting form of art evolve. Comedy specials like Demetri Martin: Demetri Deconstructed are profound examples of that. In this Netflix special, we see comedian Demitri Martin sort of playing a character who happens to be a comedian. It is, of course, just a mildly exaggerated version of him, who takes us to a place where comedy sets usually don’t go—the psyche of the comedian. Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a comedian’s head when he’s just about to perform? Or when he is performing on the stage itself? Does he get anxious about not being able to deliver a joke? Well, in Demitri Deconstructed, we get to see it all, and I have got to say, Martin has managed to pull off a very unique thing.

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Most of the time I see a stand-up on Netflix, I try to imagine how it would feel to witness it in front of a live audience. But Demitri Deconstructed is something that’s only needed to be watched on Netflix if one has to fully experience it. Playing almost like an indie movie with its lead character being a comedian, this special stays true to the title. It indeed turns into a deconstruction of the comedian, where we actually get to see what’s going on inside his head. Not to mention, the character imagines being a stand-up comedian, and doing a set only adds another meta layer to it. The monochromatic lens adds a cinematic value to the whole thing, which I thought was a brave creative decision.

Just like in cinema, usually the substance matters more than the style; no matter how innovative a comedian gets, at the end of the day, he has to deliver on his joke. While Demitri Martin scores fairly well in that part, he uses style both as a prop and a narrative tool and blends everything together so well into a very original cocktail. I would say the initial jokes are pretty flat. The broccoli bit involving the aftereffects of eating the vegetable is something we’ve heard before. The same goes for the shoplifting kink, where one actually doesn’t do it and chooses to move things inside a supermarket—just to get some kind of kick out of it. Just when you’re thinking Martin’s stand-up is all fluff and no fuss, the comedian changes the scene by bringing in something that you wouldn’t expect to see in a comedy set. And that happens to be a makeshift puppet. Yes, Martin turns into a ventriloquist—albeit not exactly a great one in his own terms, but the bit works out wonderfully for the show. Even the joke turns out to be genuinely funny where the puppet character is actually low-level clerical staff right from hell. And since it’s hell, people actually get demoted to further worse, which only makes sense.

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Often during the special, Martin takes a pause and asks to get into introspective mode, where he actually dissects the jokes and keeps seeking out things that can make the whole thing better. In my opinion, this is where his set truly becomes “special,” which is much different from any regular stand-up show that we see on Netflix. While it’s just showmanship, Martin does keep bringing out unique elements, which keeps elevating the show. His jokes also keep getting better, with each one topping the last bit. From rightfully trash talking scented garbage bags (yeah, I just did that) to imagining how he (or anyone) would look with a shower cap on the head (not to mention we do get a visual representation) to people peeing in the swimming pool (this one’s pretty common, but Martin makes it funny), he just keeps tickling your funny bones. And then comes another very exciting bit: Martin taking a dig at all those “unsolved mysteries” shows where he comes up with a segment with a similar title and keeps asking questions that are as banal as questioning the popularity of chicken nuggets over beef nuggets! This segment drags on for a bit longer than it should have, though. However, Martin makes up for that by delivering more funny jokes right after. The ones where he gets out of jury duty by dressing up as a judge is the one where I laughed the most and also wondered why James Marsden couldn’t think of it (that’s a Jury Duty reference; my apologies if you haven’t managed to watch the fantastic comedy show).

Like every seasoned comedian, Martin did reserve his best for the climax. And the best part about it is that probably nobody saw it coming—at least I didn’t. By this time, everyone has become familiar with Martin throwing twists at them, so it’s not surprising to see the comedian bringing up his own drawing into the equation. That happens to be a bunch of very minimalist art work, mostly graphs. What’s the catch here? Well, that’s where things get interesting—Martin gets out one joke from each drawing. Every single one of the jokes works out—both in terms of perfectly fitting what you see on the piece of paper and then having you laughing out loud by the end. From the many stages of eating donuts to the tips of icebergs to midlife crises, Martin just keeps making you want more of him. And the best part? He does not leave without giving you that. So he keeps flipping through all the drawings once again and makes another joke on each of them. This second round of jokes over the same drawings also works out wonderfully.

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Martin’s act on the stage ends, and his character gets back into reality, implying all we saw was playing inside his head. But then we get the biggest news: this is not the end, and the deconstruction is going to continue. I don’t know when that’ll happen, but I’m definitely going to look forward to it.


Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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