The Comedy of Steve Martin

“Comedy may be big business but it isn’t pretty.”
Steve Martin

Comedy Isn't Pretty

There’s times in our lives  when we remember every little detail of a day. That day for me was September 29th 1979.

A gentleman client of the company I worked for was smitten with me. He knew I was married, but after several attempts by this man to take me to lunch, he just wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I went to lunch with him on September 29th.

While at lunch he mentioned that his father was a CEO at Universal Studios. I remember him asking me who my favorite entertainer was? That was easy, Steve Martin was my favorite. Martin recently appeared on SNL and had sung his famous King Tut song. I can remember us mostly talking about Steve Martin at lunch and how much I enjoyed his type of humor.

Later that afternoon, my gentleman friend called to tell me he had left me two tickets that evening at will call at the Universal Amphitheatre.  I was shocked and overjoyed and couldn’t thank him enough. He told me that he was happy to get me the tickets and wanted my husband and me to have a good time.

When we arrived at Universal that evening and picked up the tickets, I never realized where the seats were located until we walked into the Amphitheatre and walked from the top of the stadium down to the bottom. We were seated front and center, one row from the stage.

We also didn’t realize that The Blues Brothers were opening for Steve Martin that evening, so we got a double treat. Seated directly in front of us was Steve Martin’s personal photographer. Throughout Martin’s performance I was laughing quite loud and he kept turning around smiling at me knowing how much I was enjoying the show.

At the end of Steve’s balloon animal routine, Steve Martin handed the photographer the balloons from his routine. Without hesitation, the man turned around to me and asked if I wanted the balloons? Sure, I said. I couldn’t stop screaming with joy and hugged and thanked him.

I kept those balloon animals for years, until they were just shriveled up rubber stuck together and deflated. I’ll never forget that evening and how I laughed and smiled until my jaw and cheeks hurt by the time I got home.

Recently, I found a YouTube video from that warm September night with the memorable comedy of Steve Martin.

Shine On

The Great Neil Simon

“If you can go through life without experiencing pain
you probably haven’t been born yet.”
Neil Simon

The Chep Detective

There’s a small list of comedy writers that I’ve admired all my life. One of them is at the top of my list. That writer is Neil Simon.

Mr. Simon has written more than thirty plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his plays. He has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.

I thought I had seen every movie he had ever written, until today on TCM they showed, The Cheap Detective.  The movie is a combination of Steve Martin’s, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and Mel Brooks, Young Frankenstein style of humor.

Neil Simon began writing comedy for television for such famous shows as The Phil Silvers Show and Your Show of Shows, for which he earned two Emmy Award nominations. He’s worked alongside other young writers including Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Simons first play was, Come Blow Your Horn which was followed by Barefoot in The Park and my all time favorite, The Odd Couple.

One of the most helpful writing books I’ve read is written by Neil Simon. Neil Simon Rewrites: A Memoir, was written in 1996 and I still have my first edition hard copy. I also recently bought the e-book edition and read it again for the fifth time. For any aspiring writer, this is a must read.

Neil Simons’ comedy writing was influenced by Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. Simon has said that he often took refuge in movie theaters to escape difficulties at home. “I think part of what made me a comedy writer is the blocking out of some of the really ugly, painful things in my childhood and covering it up with a humorous attitude … do something to laugh until I was able to forget what was hurting.”

The Cheap Detective may not be a traditional Neil Simon movie, but it certainly holds true to the Neil Simon style of writing. It’s packed with double entendres and funny one liners in the charming, classy, clean comedy style of the great Neil Simon.

Shine On

That’s Why I Love Him

“What made me love thee? let that persuade thee
there’s something extraordinary in thee.
I cannot: but I love thee; none  but thee;
and thou deserves it.”
William Shakespeare

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One of my favorite fretted instruments is the banjo. After all, you can’t help but smile when you hear the sound of a banjo.

For Mother’s Day 2014 my son bought concert tickets for us to see “Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers” at the Hollywood Bowl. The concert was fantastic.

I was so inspired by the concert, that I decided it was time to learn to play the banjo. I didn’t own a banjo, but there’s a music store near my son’s apartment, and they just happen to have used banjos. After hearing the store owner play one of the banjos, I bought a used 21 fret, open back, 5-string banjo. I was absolutely thrilled to start learning to play the banjo.

However, when I got home with my fretted friend, my husband was not as thrilled as I was. His response was, “you’re not going to practice that thing in the house, are you?”

Relationships are all about compromise. We are both supportive of each others hobbies and interests. He likes me to go with him to the shooting range and go to car shows. And because he knows how much I enjoy banjo music, he has become more supportive of my banjo playing.

After lots of practice and lessons on the banjo, he now wants me to learn to play the guitar and the mandolin.

That’s why I love him.

Happy Valentine’s Day To Everyone

Shine On