Steve Martin and Martin Short:’ Part of our show is old-fashioned, but it’s enjoyed by the audience and so are we’

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Gayle Anderson Gayle

A three-way transatlantic conference call is in itself a nerve-wracking endeavor, but when the other two individuals on the line are comedy icons Martin Short and Steve Martin, the anxiety factor undoubtedly increases. However, it turned out that there was nothing to be concerned about. Like absolute pros, the two conducted our conversation and I was treated to some top-notch interaction and banter.

The duo is promoting their upcoming The Funniest Show In Town At The Moment tour, which kicks off at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Monday. It is their first performance here for Short and it’s a highly awaited return for Martin.

He admits, “I can’t wait to get back to Scotland,” “I first came to Edinburgh when I was 21. There was a big rugby game on and I remember thinking – boy, these people can really party! I came back four years later to perform at the Fringe. I can remember playing my banjo in the coffee shops. Happy times. I have Scottish blood, Irish blood, English blood – which is pretty good for a person who has no blood.”

The two-hour program, with musical accompaniment by Martin’s bluegrass band, Steep Canyon Rangers, is part stand-up comedy, part vaudeville. Glasgow has a particular fondness for comedians playing the banjo. Has he ever jammed, I wonder, with the Big Yin?

“I have, and it was wonderful. Listen, I thought I was famous until I walked down a Scottish street with Billy Connolly. It took on a sacred aspect. It was like I was walking with an apostle.”

For Martin, 74, and Short, 69, the dual role is a late career option, but they’ve been close friends since 1986, when they first met on the set of the cowboy comedy Three Amigos!

I think they have a fast access to your heart if you’re a comedian and anyone makes you laugh. We chuckled during the movie and were determined not to lose contact, which happens so often after shooting. Me, Steve and Chevy Chase arranged “The Amigo-ettes” dinners where we and our wives met frequently. One of our show’s ingredients – something we never worked on or set out to do – is tha-ettes.

“Audiences are more invested in a show where there’s an obvious connection between the people on stage,” Martin offers. There have been comedy teams that, including Abbott and Costello or Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, have genuinely hated each other. They lasted before news that they hated each other came out. I think you laughed at their timing and their gags when you saw those two acts, but I don’t think you ever felt any love. Often, usually a funny partner and a straight partner had previous double acts. We haven’t had that. I don’t think of us, really, as a double act at all. I think of us more as two guys who are together on stage and used to have shows of their own.

It is! It is! Short says. “That’s the title for our next tour, right there.” The low, rumbling chuckle of Martin resonates on the line and is infectious.

Both are “Saturday Night Live” veterans and have gone on to very prosperous Hollywood careers. The rent is clearly paid, but what lured them to life on the road away from the comforts of a lavish movie trailer?

Martin says, “It’s the thrill of doing live shows.” It’s different from anything else. It always makes us a little sad when we have to think about reducing the amount of shows we perform for one reason or another, because we really enjoy touring. I don’t want to suggest it gives our lives purpose, but somehow, at least in terms of work, it does. It’s the audience relation. We want to make them feel as if they’re part of the show. We make them laugh, and we make them feel amused. These days, we enjoy seeing some younger faces in our audience too. After watching our previous Netflix episode, they joined in.

“An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Lives,” the Netflix special, received four Emmy nominations and was characterized as “quirky and hip.” by Rolling Stone magazine. Is that also a reasonable definition for the new show?

“Martin slurs, “Over to you, Marty.” Obviously, their interview routine is as smooth and seamless as their broadcast.

We’re hip and hip, all of us—

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