Profile: Demetri Martin
25 May 1973, New York City
A stand-up comic by trade, Martin’s 2003 show If I won the Perrier award at the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s written for such US staples as Late Night With Conan O’Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And his comedy CD (These Are Jokes) and DVD (Demetri Martin. Person) have helped turn him into one of the most sought-after comics of his generation.
What’s he up to now?
Taking the lead in Ang Lee’s flower power comedy Taking Woodstock, alongside Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber. He plays Elliot, a Catskills kid who helps bring to being the world’s most iconic music festival to his own back yard. He also makes an appearance in quirky docu-drama Paper Heart this fortnight.
On how his family compares to Elliot’s
‘My mum is very supportive and nurturing. But she didn’t quite understand why I wanted to do comedy. Nobody in my family does anything like that. We have a diner. The part Imelda played was just so different from my mum. So I was definitely searching for “What relationship have I had in life like this?” Luckily I haven’t really had one like that. Not that my family is the most expressive group of people but they’re not so outwardly tyrannical about things.’
On his generation versus the 1960s
‘At least the youth [in the 1960s] seemed mobilised and connected, even if it was just in a very peaceful and passive way. Just assembling themselves meant something. Whereas here people stay in their house and e-mail each other and say “Join my Facebook group”.’
On his sudden elevation to leading man
‘It’s surreal. The more I try to be present about stuff and think about it as a little temporary perk, the healthier I feel about stuff. If I think, “Oh my God, I hope was good enough that I still get to be in movies again.’ I can’t control that. If it’s good enough, I get another chance. If not, then I’ll work in my family’s diner.’
Martin was cast as a statistician in Steven Soderbergh’s high-profile baseball drama Moneyball – alongside Brad Pitt – but the film was cancelled three days before shooting was due to begin. (James Mottram)
Taking Woodstock is on general release from Fri 13 Nov.