In Advance of Friday's E.J. Thomas Hall Concert, Steve Martin and Martin Short Respectfully Roast Each Other

In Advance of Friday's E.J. Thomas Hall Concert, Steve Martin and Martin Short Respectfully Roast Each Other
Courtesy of Live Nation
Steve Martin and Martin Short are both Saturday Night Live favorites and two-thirds of the Three Amigos — the iconic 1986 comedy they starred in alongside Chevy Chase. Here they are, a little more than 30 years later, still close pals and still lightly roasting each other for our amusement.

Or maybe it’s also for their amusement.

They lovingly ribbed each other in a recent phone call in advance of their standup variety show, An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a mixed bag of standup comedy and musical sketches that comes to E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron at 8 p.m. on Friday.

If you’ve already watched the Netflix special, don’t worry. The funny fellas promise the material is different from that version, which received four Emmy Award nominations this year.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today gentlemen.
Well listen, you can thank me, but Marty is desperate to talk to anybody.

You two have been pals for decades. What’s your secret for a successful working relationship and friendship?
I don’t think there’s a secret.

Martin: I think we just get along, and we don’t create artificial trouble in our show and we’re both kind of sane, I think. You know, whenever there is trouble, it’s because somebody has their ego out of joint [laughs], and I don’t think we do.

During the 1980s, especially, we saw comedians rise to the level of rock stars. People could recognize you as spokesmen for your generation. Is that a fair assessment, and do you feel obligated in that respect?
I don’t think we are spokesmen of our generation. That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t know people felt that way. Now, I’m gonna change.

Short: I mean, I don’t see it that way. I see my life as exactly what it was in 1972. I get up on stage, and I try to do the best version of what I can do in that moment without worrying about the observation of my generation.

Steve, you were a writer for the Smothers Brothers during the golden age of protest. There was also an era when comedy was a tool for social reflection and protest. Since we’re in a tense time in the U.S., do either of you have any apprehension about saying certain things on stage?
Martin: I do. There is so much political commentary not only on the news — they’re not just reporting the news, they’re also reporting commentary constantly — then on late night, it’s all gags and jokes, you know, maybe satire. So, they [audiences] don’t need us to fill in the blanks because there are no blanks.

So, are you saying you don’t feel a responsibility to go there since everyone else is going there?

Short: I also don’t think it’s the word “responsibility.” I think we both share the feeling that more so now than maybe ever — you know, 15 or 20 years ago, every talk show didn’t just talk about the presidency and Washington and politics and the division. So, our feeling is that when our audience comes to the show, we’d like to think that everybody feels welcome to come and not ostracized because of their political leaning and that maybe, it’s [the show] that's gonna be a rest from all this.

Martin: Also, I don’t feel we could do better than the panels we see on television or the late-night talk shows in that area. They’re covering it fantastically.

Short: I feel I could do better [laughs].

Martin: Yeah, you could. How about that?

Short: I wanna phrase this properly; if I was not anchored down by negative energy [Steve], I could [laughs].

Do you have any favorite new or up and coming comedians?
Oh, I love that Hannah Gadsby special on Netflix. I thought that was fantastic.

I haven’t watched that yet.
Martin: Watch it. It’s fantastic and surprising. You really get hooked on it. It’s almost like watching a play with an evolving story.

Speaking of Netflix, your special received four Emmy Award nominations and people keep coming to see you guys do the show live night after night. How do you guys keep the show fresh for yourselves?
Well, much of the material has changed since the Netflix show.

Short: Yes, it has.

Martin: Plus, I’m looking for a new stage partner [laughs].

Do you guys have a favorite era of your careers? Or defining moments that stand out the most?
I had a very good, happy run during the late '80s, where I was doing films and really enjoying being in films. Then the second career — this — is equal to that in terms of pleasure and joy.

So, in terms of variety shows like this or doing movies, you don’t have a favorite?
No. I mean, I’ve had different eras in my life. I like that we don’t work as hard as I did in movies. Not that we’re afraid of hard work, but I do value time.

The stage chemistry between the two of you is effortless.
That’s because of chemicals. Marty takes a lot of chemicals [laughs].

Short: Yes.

Martin: That’s why we have that chemistry.

Marty, do you have a favorite or defining moment of your career?
Short: I don’t think I did. Again, my career has been a series of new jobs that I take on, and I start off the same way — convinced that they may not work — then I’m always delighted if they do work or half work. Then, I try to work on them. Then, I go on to the next job. I’m not aware. I usually let people tell me what they liked the best. But I don’t really sit and reflect on my career very much because I’ve never stopped doing it.

So, if you don’t take a pause, you really don’t even have time to think about it?
Yeah, you’re kind of just on to the next thing.

Do either one of you still get nervous before a show?
I don’t.

Martin: Marty doesn’t. I can get a little nervous, but not nervous, just a little energy. By the way, I don’t even feel it, I’m just aware that I’m a little nervous.
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