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

Funny at Any Age

“Keeping an active mind
has been vital to my survival,
as has been maintaining
a sense of humor.”
Stephen Hawking

Marx Brothers

Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx = Lots of Laughs

I’ve always been a sucker for a man or woman with a sense of humor.

You had to have a good sense of humor in my family. There was always some form of humor. Whether my parents or siblings were doing pratfalls, jokes, imitations of movie stars or comedians, or just listening to comedy albums, all was part of my growing up.

I grew up watching the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, W. C. Fields, Judy Holiday, Abbott and Costello, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton,  I Love Lucy, Looney Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and Martin and Lewis.

In my teens I was a huge fan of sitcoms, musical comedies, and comedians such as Steve Martin, David Steinberg, Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, The Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Dick Cavett, Don Rickles, Robert Klein, Albert Brooks, Dudley Moore, Soupy Sales, Steve Allen, Rich Little, Johnny Carson, and Woody Allan just to mention a few.

In my 20’s through my 50’s the comedians and the type of humor I’m drawn to are not much different from the one’s I enjoyed in my youth. Some of my favorites are thankfully still alive today.

As a senior citizen, I still enjoy a good joke, a great sitcom and a romantic comedy. There are a lot of great comedians around today. My taste in humor hasn’t changed much over the years. Funny is funny at any age.

Shine On

(Reblogged from January post.)