Guest Blog Item: TBT's Jay Cridlin Talks with Demetri Martin
You are witness to a first for The Feed: a guest column (probably a relief to some of you -- sorry, Fox News fans)!
Turns out, TBT writer Jay Cridlin had some nuggets leftover from his interview with Daily Show/Late Night with Conan O'Brien contributor Demetri Martin. Rather than leave them to journalistic obscurity, has asked to borrow my blog to let you all check them out. Since I'm a nice guy and up standing colleague -- and desperate to grab those young eyeballs flocking to TBT -- I agreed.
So here's his extras with Demetri. If you want to check Demetri's personal web site, click here. And thanks to Jay for giving me one less blog item to report!
What kind of skits did you write for Conan?
I wrote one called "Nick Littleton, Tiny Stuntman." I would do stunts, and it would cut to an action figure who would just get totally f----- up doing things, but all on a really small scale. I had a character that had the torso of a man and the legs of a table, like a mythical beast, but he couldn't really move. And we'd have to write a lot of stuff like "Actual Items," and "In The Year 2000," and "Stamps."
Do you have a favorite one of those?
One of the first things I got on the show was a "Secrets." And it was Michael Caine. It was just, "Secrets…!" and he said, "I'm tattooed from neck to nuts." (laughs) I just like the phrase "neck to nuts." It got on the show, and it got a laugh, and I was like, "Cool, this is fun."
You don't feel guilty making Michael Caine say "nuts?"
No. Those guys all approve. They just do what they want anyway when they come in. It's like a compliment if they say yours.
Was there anything you wrote that was too weird to get on the air at Conan?
No, but I wrote this thing called "Late Night in Space." that kept getting bumped. It was going to be that Conan sent a probe into space to look for jokes in the year 1999. There were going to be all of us on this ship, basically just writing s----- jokes in space. I thought it was really funny, but it was just too elaborate.
What is your role going to be with Microsoft?
They came to me like in the spring and were like, 'How would you like to be involved in a Web campaign for this new operating system?' I was like, 'Eh, I don't know. Maybe.' I've never had a relationship with a big company before. But they've been really cool so far. I got to make six Web films, and we'll shoot a seventh on the road. I want to make films, and I want to get to act and stuff, so this was a great opportunity.
Are you already using Windows Vista?
Yeah. I play video out of it, and I do a slideshow, like a bunch of drawings, through this laptop. I have a little foot pedal, so I just advance the slides with my foot, which is kind of cool.
It's funny – in a way, you're competing with your fellow Daily Show contributor John Hodgman, who plays the PC in those Apple 'Mac vs. PC' ads. Do you get into Mac/PC arguments with him now?
I haven't seen him since his stuff went down. But John Hodgman's a great guy. I write these little essays sometimes in the New York Times funny pages, and he's my editor. We both started The Daily Show around the same
time, and I think his book (The Areas of My Expertise) is hilarious.
There is this whole comedy world out there – you mentioned John Hodgman,and there are these other comedians like Aziz Ansari and Eugene Mirman and Zach Galifianakis. You can't even really put a word on what it is, other than indie comedy, or alternative comedy, but it's all kind of the same sensibility.
It's definitely different than the '80s comic with the blazer getting into the differences between men and women. That's not what I think attracts a lot of us to what we're doing. In the end, the journey is to try to be oneself in front of a group of people you don't know, and entertain them. I used to work at The Daily Show as an intern when Craig Kilborn was there, and A. Whitney Brown was one of the correspondents. I was just starting out in standup, and I was asking him his advice, and he said this thing to me
that was really cool: "You've got to tip your audience. You've got to give people what they paid for, but just tip the audience, so they get a little bit extra than what they paid for when they came to see you, so when they leave, they take something with them." That is good advice. Not easy to do, but it's true.
Of course, the most popular young comic in the biz right now seems to be Dane Cook, who's selling out stadiums and has hosted Saturday Night Live twice.
He's miles ahead, in terms of popularity. Dane, first of all, has been doing it for like 15 years. I think you have to respect the fact that he is a comic who did his time. And second, I think he's got a very smart head for marketing. I mean, that dude had a Web site with sound and all kinds of s--- before most people had a Web site at all. And then his very accessible approach to his fans, and doing colleges for years, and building up his mailing list – Dane is a real embodiment of that side of being a comedian.
A lot of people have taken note of that, kind of like, "I gotta get my MySpace going," and this and that. The other thing that makes Dane interesting is that for a lot of us, he makes you ask the question: "What do I want? What am I going for? How badly do I want this? Do I need to play
to 5,000 people a night? Do I need to play to 500? Do I need to just make a living? Do I want to be a movie star?" My style, personally, is I don't want to thrust myself too much on people. I like to sell to people the way I like being sold to myself. I like finding stuff. I think the country is big enough that people find the audience. The audience finds the performer. They find each other, if you just put it out there.
Do you know Dane at all? I get the sense that there are people in the comedy world who don't like him.
That's totally true, but the thing is this: That's true of every comic. I think it's just because Dane has sold so many albums, and is selling arenas. But there's just no comic everybody loves. In the end, certain guys make me laugh, and certain guys don't. I don't think it's a personal thing. You can't make yourself like somebody. It's just what strikes a chord in you. And I try to remember that, because I've seen people who just hate me, and I'm thinking, "Okay, you don't know me. Sure, you don't find me funny. I don't know why you hate me, but okay, you hate me." And other people, they're like, "I love you!" And again, it's like, "You don't know me, but thank you, that's cool. I'm glad that resonates with you."
You seem have made a career out of just doing what entertains you.
Yeah. And I'm kind of just learning as I go. I never did music. I drew very little. I never painted. I didn't act. I was going to be a lawyer. I was trying to win this whole game in my head, which was, get good grades, go to
a good school, get an impressive job. And then I realized, this is not fulfilling. So when I switched, it was kind of like starting from scratch, but I'm grateful. If I'm making any living doing this, cool. I don't have to have a day job.