'This Is A Book' Of Demetri Martin's Miscellany

Comedian Demetri Martin hosts Important Things With Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. He is also a contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. i i

Comedian Demetri Martin hosts Important Things With Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. He is also a contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Grand Central Publishing hide caption

itoggle caption Grand Central Publishing
Comedian Demetri Martin hosts Important Things With Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. He is also a contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Comedian Demetri Martin hosts Important Things With Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. He is also a contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Grand Central Publishing

Demetri Martin, the stand-up comedian famous for his Beatle-ish bangs and stream-of-consciousness onstage drawings, has now brought his doses of comedy to print in his first book — and it's appropriately titled This Is a Book.

This Is a Book features essays, drawings, one-liners and charts, all penned in Martin's characteristically unconventional, understated style. He talked with Morning Edition's Linda Wertheimer about his new material, and his jump from the stage to the page.

From the section of his book called "Charts and Graphs," he includes a pie chart titled "Types of Breath." He explains, "On the left, there is good, and on the right, there is bad. That's about 50 percent each, but there's a tiny sliver in the middle for interesting breath, which is a very small portion of all the breath in the world."

Types Of Breath i i

Types Of Breath Grand Central Publishing hide caption

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Types Of Breath

Types Of Breath

Grand Central Publishing

"It's pretty binary," he adds.

In another section, "Epigrams, Fragments and Light Verse," Martin echoes his stand-up style with brief but hilarious snippets. "They are short little ideas, so I could just put a sentence or two, and then move on to the next one," he says.

They range from tongue-in-cheek to wryly clever:

"The bird, the bee, the running child are all the same to the sliding glass door."

"Nothing wise was ever printed upon an apron."

"Let no man's deathbed be a futon."

"I wish this poem were longer.
There, that's better."

This Is A Book by Demetri Martin
This Is a Book
By Demetri Martin
Hardcover, 288 pages
Grand Central Publishing
List Price: $24.99

Read An Excerpt

Martin jokes that most of his material is short and inane, but his section on palindromes reveals his keen talent for wordplay.

A palindrome is, at least functionally, "a phrase or sentence that you might say that might create awkward silence with other people," Martin says with a laugh. But he adds that it's also a sequence of letters or words — even sometimes numbers — that reads the same forward or backward.

Martin calls his collection of palindromes "Palindromes for Specific Occasions," and includes a description with each one to clue readers into what it describes. In one example, a head baker at a bakery is instructing a new employee about how to deal with customers, when he suddenly notices what the new baker has made.

He says, "Snub no man, nice cinnamon buns." (Try it. See? It works.)

"It's pretty deep stuff I put in the book here," Martin says with a laugh.

Martin also likes to use drawings in his act — in fact, sketching on a large pad of paper was a trademark of his Comedy Central show Important Things with Demetri Martin. So, naturally, Martin uses sketches in his book, too.

One features a "Narcoleptic Pole Vaulter," a sleepy — and unfortunate — athlete who is impaled at the end of a pole, not quite all the way over, and just stuck hanging.

Narcoleptic Pole Vaulter i i

Narcoleptic Pole Vaulter Grand Central Publishing hide caption

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Narcoleptic Pole Vaulter

Narcoleptic Pole Vaulter

Grand Central Publishing

"I captured the moment just when he dozed off," explains Martin. "I love imminence. I love catching a snapshot of something that is just about to happen. Or maybe something that just happened, you know. But I like especially that just-before kind of feeling."

He translated these sorts of proclivities into his book, but it wasn't easy. When it comes to gauging his material, Martin is used to the immediate reaction of a crowd.

"I'm spoiled. I'm used to having people tell me, 'Hey, that's good, keep that.' Or with their silence: 'No, no, no, don't do that again,' " Martin says. "They kind of give me a shortcut — with a book it's more like being in a vacuum."

But Martin rose to the challenge, and even poked fun at some book conventions themselves. After all, This Is a Book is dedicated to ... everyone. On the dedication page, it simply says, "For you."

Excerpt: 'This Is A Book'

This Is A Book by Demetri Martin
This Is a Book
By Demetri Martin
Hardcover, 288 pages
Grand Central Publishing
List Price: $24.99

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Flash photography is not permitted at any time during the show. Also, there is no recording of any kind allowed during the show. This includes both audio and video recording, as well as sketch­ing, journaling, documenting, making mental notes reminiscing, reviewing, or remembering anything at all with your mind. Any recording devices that we find will be taken away from you and juggled recklessly by the clown you see standing near the left exit.

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Please keep the number of "Whoos!" to two or fewer per per­son. If you exceed this number (which our whoo counters will be watching for) you will receive an electric shock of memorable force.

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Finally, please do not fall asleep during the show. If you yawn, a marble or small pellet may be carefully tossed into your mouth.

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. If you don't, then be prepared to suffer the consequences. On with the show!

From This Is A Book by Demetri Martin. Copyright 2011 Demetri Martin. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group USA (HBGUSA).

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