Taking Steven Wright's style of letting the absurdist one-liners fly, standup whiz kid Demetri Martin puts an indie spin on Wright's shtick and then breaks the act up with some weird, delicate songs featuring Glockenspiel, guitar, and synth. Mostly straight live standup with a couple studio concoctions tacked on the end, the audio portion of These Are Jokes is hilarious with Martin effortlessly delivering endless streams of strangeness and irreverence while occasionally referencing the recording of his debut CD to the audience with such giddy pride you just want to pinch his cheek. The way Martin sees it, life vests protect you from drowning, bulletproof vests protect you from getting shot, and sweater vests protect you from pretty girls. Swimming is interesting because "sometimes you do it for fun, while other times you do it to not die." The great song "Sames and Opposites" offers "A squirrel is the same as a can/When there's a B.B. gun in my hand" while Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte shows up for some crazy scatting and ridiculous vocal vamping on "Personal Information Waltz." The studio tracks at the end are bizarre -- more Residents than They Might Be Giants bizarre -- and the bonus DVD features some freaky animation, along with a less satisfying set of standup from a less comfortable sounding Martin. Still, it's a bonus; and a bonus to a fantastic debut CD from the quirkier, smarter side of standup.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries