Demetri Martin: On My Culture Radar
The comedian on the works of artist Etel Adnan, why Alone is a reality show with a difference, and rediscovering Run-DMC.
Current favourite book
I’m working on a book of short fiction that’s long overdue, but I’ve never really read short stories before so recently I’ve been reading O. Henry, who wrote American short stories in the early 20th century that were often ironic in nature. He wrote the Gift of the Magi, a well-known Christmas story in the States, where newlyweds want to buy each other something special. She has long, beautiful hair so he buys her a comb by selling his watch, and she buys him a watch chain by cutting and selling her hair.
I have a lot of food allergies so restaurants are difficult, but there’s a place called Pinches Tacos, not far from where I live in Los Angeles. My two- and five-year-old like it there too. They make the tortillas fresh, and it doesn’t feel like fast food. It’s nothing too sophisticated but it’s tasty.
I find Kate Berlant and Rory Scovel are really funny. I cast both of them in Dean, my first and only movie a few years ago. Before the film, I didn’t know Kate’s stand up, and I only knew Rory’s a little bit. He improvises a lot. He’s different to Ross Noble, but it’s reminiscent of his approach: spontaneous, and very present, which is cool.
I spend a lot of time in museums when I’m on the road. I’ve been enjoying the work of Etel Adnan, a Lebanese-American painter and poet, recently – it’s very colourful.
I just bought some CDs yesterday from Amoeba Records in LA, including Run-DMC’s first album, which I first bought in 1983. It was one of my first cassettes, so I bought it yesterday as a CD. I was just listening to it in my car, and it proves music is so powerful; short of an odour, there’s nothing that takes me back so specifically to a certain moment.
I used to love exploring cities but now I have a family, we go to places that are fun for all of us. I don’t know if it counts as a city, but we love going up to Lake Tahoe, a gigantic lake with ski resorts around there. There’s a place called Squaw Valley where they built an artifical town at the bottom, with bars and restaurants, and it’s a really fun place to visit.
I’ve always enjoyed Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan. And I cast Kevin Kline in my movie, and he’s one of my favourites. These are all white guys, I apologise.
I’m late to podcasts, but I heard one of the first episodes of Conan O’Brien’s podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend where he talks to one person and has a conversation with them. I listened to the episode where David Sedaris is guest, and I really enjoyed that - it’s just two people talking, it doesn’t feel too structured.
I recently watched Alone with my wife. It’s on the History Channel, and in it they leave 10 survivalists in different spots around Canada. Each person can bring some items with them, and they have to last as long as they can. They have no interaction with each other; they just have GoPros to document their attempt at survival, with things like fishing, making a shelter and lighting fires. The drama is in the difficulty of the situation, not in the competition of it all.
Demetri Martin plays Vicar Street, Dublin, on April 14th.