Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A wild and crazy dude.

In honor of Steve Martin publishing his autobiographical memoir, Born Standing Up, these two clips should explain his essential genius to the youngsters out there who mainly know him as a white guy gray haired Hollywood Father figure. In 1981 when he walked away forever from live on the road as a stand-up comic, he was filling 20,000 seat arenas and was as hot as any comic has ever been.

Ben Yagoda says it this way over on Slate:
According to the census bureau, roughly 40 percent of the American populace was born after 1981, which means that Steve Martin has not been a stand-up comedian in their lifetime.

He concludes thusly:
Reading Born Standing Up, you're not surprised that Martin's stand-up career should have ended so suddenly and definitively. A tummler like Mel Brooks will do shtick as long as he can aspirate, but Martin's comedy was the cerebral and premeditated project of a shy man, and when he perfected the act, the only places to go were repetition, self-parody, or diminishing returns. So, as tempting as it would be to wish that he were back on stage instead of making Father of the Bride 4, it would also be wrong. Rather than begrudge him his Hollywood paydays, I'd rather thank him for the great old stuff and for this wonderful book. Back in the stand-up days, he had a bit that started out, "You know, a lot of people come to me and they say, 'Steve, how can you be so fucking funny?' " On stage, he'd say the secret was, "Before I go out, I put a slice of bologna in each of my shoes. So when I'm on stage, I feel funny." In Born Standing Up, he gives us the real answer.

Steve Martin at LA Universal Amphitheater in 1979

The truly inspired "The Great Flydini bit" performed by request for Carson on that famous final week of shows: wait for the crotch phone at 3:05 and the Luciano puppet at 5:03

1 comment:

brd said...

Thanks for finding those two great clips. I agree that the folks who missed the era of Steve Martin on stage missed something very special. I'm glad you have reminded us all. Some people may not even know he had a blockbuster song, i.e. King Tut.