The moptopped Martin, a former New York University
law student who ditched legal briefs in favor of stand-up routines, has earned
a following as one of the comic components of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.
He specializes in wordplays and observational humor, recalling the legacies of
George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld and Steven Wright, but he’s dressed down in
slacker gear (T-shirt, jeans, sneakers) that makes him look much younger than
his 35 years.
The premiere episode on Feb.
11 at 10:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. (with subsequent runs on Thursday, Feb. 12, 10
p.m.; Friday, Feb. 13, 9:30p.m.; and Monday, Feb. 16, 2:30 and 10:30 p.m.)
offers a Monty Python-esque template that merges some stand-up, filmed sketches
and musical and animated interludes, as Martin devotes his half-hour to the
specific theme of timing. This episode is hit and miss, although his one-liners
are pretty funny (“I wonder if there were any goths in gothic times. ‘You look
completely appropriate: You don’t look lonely or stupid at all.’”) and a sketch
involving Martin as a “time gigolo” who warps himself into the past to boink
famous women like Betsy Ross is inspired hilarity.
Martin’s series formula gels
with more consistency during the Wednesday, Feb. 18, installment, broadcast at
10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. (airing again on Monday, Feb. 23, 10:30 p.m.). The
theme is power, and the show builds to a clever superhero parody with Martin as
a costumed crusader who seeks vengeance for a family member’s death (his weapon
of choice is a boomerang, which leads to the catch phrase “What goes around,
comes around”), until a key revelation alters his reason for battling
evildoers. Even when his show doesn’t quite click, Martin’s engaging presence
helps make the half-hour speed right by. He could become Comedy Central’s
newest ratings-grabber, as long as he doesn’t go all Dave Chappelle on us.