Stand-up comedy is usually boring live (and especially boring on television), but we always check the trades for comics getting their own shows. Most go sitcom, but we prefer comics who do something original.
Important Things with Demetri Martin [10 PM, Comedy Central] - Comedian-actor Martin brings his intelligent (but not too smart as to invoke the Dennis Miller ratio) humor to this new series premiering tonight and running for seven episodes. Tonight's "important thing" (each episode features one theme) is timing. In this post-Blart age, where it seems that existential comedy might give way to fat guys squeaking across mall floors, this mishmash of jokes, animation, musical numbers and sketches gives us hope. So you won't be splitting a gut over the stand-up/visual aid stuff, but this is Mitch Hedberg for the Wired set with a show that showcases all aspects of his comedic abilities.
Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... [9 PM, Sundance] - It's an hour of indie and not-so-indie showbiz royalty descendants as She & Him (Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward), Jenny Lewis and Jakob Dylan sit down to discuss their work and family lives. There will be the requisite amount of "It was so great to collaborate with you" during the Jenny Lewis segment, but Elvis gives these performers a comfortable environment to talk about their craft.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien [12:35 AM, NBC] - Jimmy Fallon, Rose Byrne, John Pizzarelli. Only a few more nights of 12:35 Conan left, and if last night's free-for-all with Norm Macdonald and Gordon Ramsay is any indication, it seems like Conan is going out with a bang. If you can't stay up for the guests, at least catch the classic Late Night bit after the monologue.
The CollegeHumor Show [8:30 PM, MTV] - Here's the thing: This show could be good. Put a bunch of young writers in a room and something good can come out of it, but the goal has to be to make television, not the internet with higher production value. On the hierarchy of jokes, the internet is at the bottom, because the standards are lowest and the supply is infinite. We were hoping that the gang at CollegeHumor.com would have stepped their game up, but there are too many tired jokes in the first episode to keep the premise of a crazy office where anything can happen alive.
The premiere episode airs again tonight (new ones are on Sunday nights), Ricky loses an employee to the owner of a rival web site in a poker game. Many of these people are non-actors, so they are doing the best they can with the material, but the lines are usually read and not acted and the sillier moments lack the strength of the site's funniest videos. The creators were smart to make the show about the site and not about college humor itself (though this epi features a beer pong subplot), but shouldn't everyone be having more fun? Supposedly, parts of the show are improvised, but the boundaries are too tight to make any character except Amir (pictured) seem like a funny human and not just another downtown hipster pretending to act annoyed or worried or anxious. CollegeHumor can do better, as the internet shorts that shepherd us to the commercial breaks indicate.