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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.
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Interview: why Steve Martin, Martin Short are coming back to the Fox (January 12)

Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

In this age of political divisiveness and mean tweets, there is an antidote in the form of two classic comics who could have easily been stars in vaudeville decades ago: Steve Martin and Martin Short.

In their recent Netflix special based on their tour material, Short says of Martin: “He’s one of my oldest friends. Steve and I are like Donny and Marie - without the sexual tension.” 

Martin, on Short: “Martin Short is also the name I use when I check in a hotel and want to be anonymous.”

Short, on Martin: “Thirty five years later and you’re still the jerk!” 

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The two entertainers did so well at the Fox Theatre in 2016, they are making a return visit January 12, which is sold out. (Stubhub has tickets available starting at about $156 and Vivid Seats at $151)

The pair, who met in 1985 shooting the comedy “Three Amigos “ with Chevy Chase, became fast friends. Over the years, they’ve hung out with their families and taken vacations together. This show is just another excuse for the pair to hang out and goof around. 

Their natural rapport with each other was self-evident during a recent phone call to promote their upcoming show. They just kept right on teasing each other. 

Martin: “From my dressing room to the stage, they put down red tape. For Marty’s direction, they put down green tape. This way, we never have to run across each other accidentally.”

Short: “Sometimes when I’m on stage, I just imagine Billy Crystal.”

Short said the show has been describe as “a children’s show for adults. It’s always moving very fast. If an audience doesn’t really laugh, it goes.”

The show will be significantly different this time around from three years ago. “Since Netflix, which was last March, it’s about 60 to 70 percent new,” Martin said. 

Short: “Initially we thought we’d have to replace everything. Nobody wants to see something they see on TV. But you realize a) a lot of people hadn’t seen it and b) people like to see things they saw on television.”

So the two comics have gradually taken old stuff out and inserted new material. They also respect each other enough not to deliberately throw the other off their game.

“We’re both aware it’s very dangerous to forget the audience has never seen this before,” Short said. “If I want to break into Steve’s story and ad lib just because it’s fresh and new to me doesn’t mean it will make the show better.” 

Martin added: “We do ad lib. You learn how and when to do it.” Pause. “Although we are new to this business.”

It kind of goes without saying that the two of them are not at all new to the business. In Martin’s case, he was a huge stand-up star in the 1970s and broke big in film with “The Jerk” in 1979, followed by hits such as “All of Me,” “Roxanne,” “Parenthood” and “Father of the Bride.”

Short excelled over the years doing sketch comedy on “SCTV” and “Saturday Night Live” before pursuing his own array of film, stage and TV  projects including a talk show and most recently, an NBC variety show with Maya Rudolph. 

Martin recalled loving the Fox Theatre during his early days singing “King Tut” and running around with an arrow on his head,  but he said he prefers doing his shows now with Short. 

“It’s great to have a partner,” Martin said, before adding, “I probably settled too soon.”

While they were formulating the show a few years ago, they included more guest stars to fill a few minutes as a security blanket. “We don’t have room for it anymore,” Martin said. “We don’t want the show to go two and a half hours. We try to keep it under two. We rely on each other’s talent.”

“If Jerry Seinfeld wants to pop in,” Short added, “ he’s welcome!” 

Martin threw in his last lighthearted dig: “One night, I’d really like Marty to show up!” 

IN CONCERT

Steve Martin and Martin Short

8 p.m., Saturday, January 12

$50-$225

The Fox Theatre

660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta

www.foxtheatre.org

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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