From late-night talk shows to Saturday Night Live, movies and musicals, you've seen them together for decades. Steve Martin and Martin Short have more in common than their reciprocal names and multi-disciplinary comedic styles. They're also close friends and, for the last several years, partners in a variety show all their own.
Martin and Short bring their show, "An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life," to Ruth Eckerd Hall Saturday, a quirky blend of comedy, standup, sketch comedy and reminiscences.
An alternate title, the pair has joked, reflects the high cost of living: "If we'd saved, we wouldn't be here."
Martin and Short met more than 30 years ago when cast with Chevy Chase in the 1986 comedy The Three Amigos. But long before that, they gravitated toward the improvisational and the wacky. In a phone interview, they talked about what makes their show work.
"I grew up loving Laurel and Hardy, (Dean) Martin and (Jerry) Lewis, Jack Benny, Steve Allen, so many different comedians," Martin said. Short added Harpo Marx, Dick Van Dyke, Lucille Ball, Jonathan Winters, Elaine May and her longtime partner, Mike Nichols.
"Steve and I have many things we share that are very beneficial for this show," Short said. "We have very similar comedic instincts, things that strike us as funny. If Steve said, 'Oh, this comedian is hysterical, you must watch him,' it would be very unusual if I didn't find him funny. Our work ethic is very similar. Our approach to the construction of comedy is similar."
Asked about differences between them, Short said, "Steve is much, much older. Not decades, but close to it." (Martin is 71, Short is 66.)
"And Marty is actually happy," Martin said.
Expect familiar traits and characters to make an appearance at their show. Martin will play banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers, a Grammy-winning bluegrass band. And Short's Jiminy Glick, a fawning celebrity interviewer Short developed on SNL, then refined on television in The Martin Short Show and Primetime Glick, the film Jiminy Glick in Lalawood and his Broadway show, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, will make an appearance.
"People ask me if I'm going to do some of my older characters from the '80s," Short said. "And my answer is always, 'Sadly, yes.' "
Martin has branched out considerably in recent years, penning a Tony-nominated musical, Bright Star, with Edie Brickell, following their Grammy-winning bluegrass album. Fans might remember the goofy guy who stripped down to his boxers on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson or who sang the King Tut song on SNL, but understand that he has evolved.
Asked if there are some who want this old material, similar to fans who insisted that Jimi Hendrix play Foxy Lady at every concert, Martin replied, "I get a lot of requests for Foxy Lady. And I refuse to do it. I am not going back to those days."
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