Every time I walk into a bookstore these days, I marvel at how much the “Humor” section has changed. It used to be that whenever I would make my way to that section, my hopes would be dashed when all I found were those irritating “bathroom readers” and books full of jokes about how miserable it is to be married. Thankfully, the section has evolved, with comics and television writers coming out with novels, “how to” guides and memoirs. Through no fault of their own, not every comedian makes the smoothest transition to publishing. Some comic styles are too avant-garde, to use a douchey word, or too dependent on getting the right tone across. Luckily, despite his own unusual style, Demetri Martin has created something both smart and hilarious in This Is A Book.
If you have not heard Martin’s standup prior to reading, it is not necessary, but I highly recommend it. Martin’s style is much like that of Zach Galifanakis or (the gone far too soon) Mitch Hedberg; a series of unrelated, quirky one-liners, sometime accompanied with music, or in Martin’s case, drawings. A lot of the humor comes from not the words themselves, but the implications behind them. Martin counts on the audience to connect the dots and paint their own picture of why something is funny, which is a daring and undoubtedly scary way to go. A few of Martin’s chapters in This Is A Book are made up of these one liners, which are, in my opinion, his greatest strength.