Legendary comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short are bringing their traveling “variety show” to the Bell Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 27, and with the tagline, “Where life is wasted, one minute at a time.”
Close friends since they worked on the 1986 film “Three Amigos,” Martin and Short have been touring as a team for several years.
While it appears to be each of their first times in our city, Martin is convinced he’s been to Augusta before.
“I performed in every town and hamlet in the country in the ’70s, so I know I’ve been there,” Martin said.
The Metro Spirit recently spoke to Martin and Short before their visit to Augusta for their show that’s humorously called “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.”
Martin said his approach and style onstage put him squarely in the alternative comedy scene, just 30 years early.
“I guess that’s true,” Martin stated. “That was kinda my goal, to be alternative and break some rules. Marty’s was to follow as many rules as he possibly could.”
Martin’s long career has showcased his many talents, from stand-up comedy (Rolling Stone lists him as the 11th greatest stand-up comedian of all time) to music (according to Ranker.com, he is the 10th greatest banjo player of all time) to best-selling author, actor, playwright and producer.
Short followed a more traditional career path, creating some of the more memorable characters of the past few decades. (Ed Grimley, anyone?)
The current incarnation of their show began a few years ago.
“I’d say it was spontaneous combustion between the two of us,” Martin said. “We were asked to interview each other for a comedy festival. So everyone in the audience was interested in comedy and how it worked. So that’s what we talked about and it went really well. And then we said, ‘Let’s do that again somewhere.’”
The ball began to roll, and the two really enjoyed being on stage together.
“We got a job somewhere and we realized if people weren’t comedians or interested in comedy, we had to do something else,” Martin said. “We had to bring in some music and some big laughs, stories and dancing. So, that’s when we started to develop the show as it is today.”
So, what is the show exactly?
“A big, rambunctious variety show that keeps changing and changing,” he said. “Its orientation is to be funny and its goal is to make the audience laugh for an hour and 45 minutes. We do have music to break the tension. All the songs are funny, and we have a great band, The Steep Canyon Rangers.”
The Rangers are very familiar to local music fans of all stripes.
The band has performed with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, joining them for a POPS! at the Bell, as well as taking the stage at Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival in Evans.
But how, you might ask, did they wind up on tour with these two giants of comedy?
“The Steep Canyon Rangers were serendipity. I happened to meet them in North Carolina,” Martin said. “My wife would vacation there, and when I did my first music album, my agent said, ‘You have to tour.” And I said ‘What?’ And he said, ‘You have to tour.’”
Martin was absolutely stunned.
“I haven’t been on the road in 15 years… 20 years,” Martin said. “But my agent said, ‘Well…you gotta tour,’ and he asked, ‘Do you know any bands?’”
That’s when The Steep Canyon Rangers popped into his head.
“I said, ‘I only know one,’ and named these guys off the top of my head and it worked out…a lucky accident,” he said. “We’ve also got Jeff Babko from Jimmy Kimmel Live, so it’s a big night. We want to make the audience leave thinking what a great show that was, how much fun it was and that it’s worth every penny. That’s what we want them to say.”
While touring, the old friends definitely enjoy spending time together, Martin said.
“We keep each other’s company on the road,” Martin said. “We’re there to rehearse the show, do the sound check, go home and relax… then, back to a hotel, have a little dinner then come and do the show. Then, we hang out afterwards and talk about how the show went. And that’s our life six days a month.”
Each night is a new and exciting experience among the two good friends, Short said.
“I think a headline is Steve and I are dearly, deeply proud of this show and we encourage everyone to come and see why we’re so proud of it,” Short said.
Martin agreed, “Come see our pride.”
Steve Martin & Martin Short featuring The Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko
7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27
augustaentertainmentcomplex.com or 877-4AUGTIX