Q&A: Martin on Yale, Jon Stewart and his haircut

Alexandra Finkel

After finishing up his routine, Demetri Martin sat down with The Daily for an interview on life before fame, working with big industry names and how he maintains his signature haircut.

Daily: You sold out 1,000 tickets in five minutes. Did you realize you were so popular with college students?

Demetri Martin: I still don’t quite know how popular I would be across the country. Maybe with college students. I think in certain pockets there are cities that are really good for me. I also think that it’s funny when you do specials and they air them over and over, you don’t realize how many times things are on television because my jokes are kind of generic. I think maybe the TV stuff helped, (but) I think it takes a while to actually get fans for that kind of thing.

Daily: What were you like as an undergraduate at Yale?

DM: I did student government, I ran the soup kitchen in my residential college, I started a youth group for Greek kids. I was doing the kind of well-rounded thing I think. I didn’t do any theater, I didn’t do any improv, (and) I never tried stand-up. I didn’t really do that much that was creative either – I didn’t play any instruments, I hadn’t started painting yet. I was kind of a late bloomer. In college I hadn’t quite found my thing yet, but Yale was fun.

Daily: Do you regret dropping out of law school?

DM: The fame thing, to me, I can see how fleeting it all is; it doesn’t seem like such a substantial way to make a living. It seems like you can go away pretty quickly, but I don’t regret the law school thing. I always say my worst day in comedy is better than my best day in law school just because it wasn’t for me. I just wasn’t passionate about doing that kind of work.

Daily: You got your start on Comedy Central. How was working with Jon Stewart?

DM: I got a job there as the assistant audience coordinator when I dropped out of law school, and then I went off to do my temp jobs because I realized I wanted to be a writer or performer, and then years later worked with Jon Stewart. Jon was like having a comedy professor because he was so smart about not only doing bits but editing footage and packing clips, so it was cool.

Daily: How long have you had the look?

DM: This hair? I think I’ve had some sort of a Beatles haircut since ’98, so over a decade. I was thinking of cutting it shorter. … The thing is, my hair grows pretty much down so I can have it shorter and then it looks like a Caeser cut, but with this length at least it just kind of lays.

Daily: What are you looking for in the future?

DM: I got a deal to write a book and I have to hand it in in September, so I’m trying to figure out the book right now. I like acting. I’m hoping that stand-up can be my primary thing that I do because it’s my favorite but that I get opportunities along the way to do other things. To me, the dream is to figure out what you love doing and then get to do it and then make your living off it. If you can do what you’re passionate about doing and get money for it, it seems like you win.

Corinne Lestch contributed writing.

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