Last 2 Times Steve Martin Did Stand-Up: Yesterday, 1981

Surprise set came before Jerry Seinfeld's show
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2016 12:16 PM CST
Last 2 Times Steve Martin Did Stand-Up: Yesterday, 1981
Steve Martin arrives at the 13th Annual Gala in the Garden at the Hammer Museum on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Jerry Seinfeld did the second show of his residency at New York's Beacon Theatre Thursday night, and his opener was none other than Steve Martin—who hasn't performed stand-up in 35 years. Writing for Vulture, Jesse David Fox says the moment was one of the biggest thrills of his career: Sure, Martin has "been funny" in the days since giving up stand-up, whether during appearances on Saturday Night Live or awards shows or even telling jokes in between songs at his bluegrass shows. But he hasn't done stand-up, or even really talked about stand-up, since he gave it up, and that made the performance something truly special. How was he? "Mostly pretty good, occasionally almost great, and for one moment truly special," Fox writes.

He performed for about 10 minutes, which included some banjo songs, per the Guardian. His opener was solid: "Jerry couldn't make it tonight ... Have a safe ride home!" His jokes were classic Steve Martin: "I'm a little upset with the Beacon Theatre. I was backstage and I used the restroom. And there was a sign that read, 'Employees Must Wash hands.' [Pause] 'And I could not find [pause] one employee [pause] to wash my hands." Sure, it might sound cheesy, "but that's the point," Fox writes. "Martin in his prime did comedy that made fun of comedy." He still exhibited a "masterful" command of rhythm, as the aforementioned pauses illustrate. It was like watching the Martin of 35 years ago perform again, via time machine, Fox says. Read his full description of the set, including the "truly special" moment, here. (Are we also getting Father of the Bride Part 3?)

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