US comedian Demetri Martin knows all about Kiwis and our dry sense of humour after sharing a flat with his friends from Flight of the Conchords.
The award-winning comic, artist, writer, and director is returning to our shores for the first time since 2011 with his acclaimed Wandering Mind tour arriving later this month for all ages shows in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.
His visit Downunder follows a hectic 30-date tour of the US, UK, Ireland and Europe, and the release last year of his fourth hour-long stand-up television special with the Netflix hit The Overthinker.
Martin works hard to keep his live shows fresh and promises new material that blends his signature deadpan one-liners, inner monologue voice-overs, drawings, and various instruments including guitar, keyboard, and piano.
"I'm genuinely excited to come back and I have all this new material," says Martin.
"I very rarely repeat [jokes] because Netflix is so accessible. Often people will watch your stuff before they come to the show, so if you don't have anything new to say you're in big trouble.
"The fun part about this tour has been the experimentation from night to night. I can try different things and the audience can tell me 'yes that works' or 'no we're confused' or 'that's not funny' or whatever.
"That little bit of a tightrope makes it more exciting for me, rather than 'here's my polished finished show' and I'll just repeat it every night."
Martin began doing stand-up comedy in New York, where he worked as a staff writer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien and became a regular performer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The 45-year-old went on to create and star in his own Comedy Central television show, penned two New York Times bestsellers, and also wrote and directed his first feature film, Dean, in 2016.
His appreciation for New Zealand comedy started when he was introduced to Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement and their unique sense of humour in Edinburgh in 2003.
"Jimmy Carr the English comedian said 'Look, I'm going to take you to this show, you're going to love these guys'," Martin explained.
"They weren't playing in a very big room, they weren't famous yet, and I enjoyed them so much and thought they were so funny.
"And then their friends that I've met over the years, that's when I started to get the Kiwi sense of humour. They're a product of where they're from, which is wonderful."
He credits the duo for helping inspire him to begin incorporating music into his own live show.
"I started playing guitar when I was 29 and I was about five years into doing stand-up already. I hadn't played any instruments and I'm quite limited.
"The Conchords and I were roommates in the summer of 2004 at Edinburgh, we shared a flat together and it was great being with them because they're real musicians.
"I got to play instruments with them a little bit and it was also very enlightening because I thought 'I really don't know what the hell I'm doing'. So it was kind of funny."
Knowing New Zealand's reputation as a laid-back country, Martin was "shocked and horrified" by the Christchurch mosque attacks. With his New Zealand tour kicking off in the Garden City, he is mindful of the trauma and heartache still being felt around the country.
"Even as absurd as America is, with the countless tragedies that we've had, that was still so shocking, and for all of you, I'm sure it must be just bizarre and horrific to be on the world stage for that reason.
"I was living in New York on 9-11 and it was, of course, that was unforgettable and just crazy.
"New Zealand, especially historically, by so many measures, it seems like such a paradise. No place is perfect but you all have such a special country. So what a nightmare."
Martin's mostly inoffensive comedy is not edgy or political. Rather than attempt to address or reflect upon the dire state of the world, he hopes his live show can provide punters with a temporary escape from these difficult times.
"I'm usually not funny when I talk about politics," he says. "I have friends that do it very well. I do best when it's dogs and balloons and those sorts of hard-hitting issues.
"I'm not a controversial act. Sometimes I curse a bit but my material is not inherently dirty so I'll say a word here or there but it's not really the point of my act. Mostly it's about jokes and daydreaming and that sort of thing.
"I don't think I'll have anything to add to the conversation but in these times I often think that there are some of us who maybe at our best can be a distraction and still be just entertainment."
Demetri Martin's Wandering Mind Tour
Christchurch - The Aurora Centre – Friday, May 31
Auckland – Town Hall – Saturday, June 1
Wellington – Opera House, Monday June 3