Steve Martin and Martin Short have worked together quite a few times over the 30-plus years since Three Amigos. Recently, the two old friends took the stage together as part of a live tour which was captured for a Netflix special, Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. It’s a charming special that sees the two comedy legends hilariously working off each other while sharing stories from their respective careers.
The show starts with Steve Martin taking the stage and, as will become a running gag throughout the show, extols the virtues of a great performer – himself. Then after a number of false starts and stops, Martin Short takes the stage alongside Steve Martin. The two exchange lively banter, presenting the audience with the “Hollywood compliment,” which are kind words punctuated by some harsh critique. They set the stage with their routine which sees them jabbing each other with pointed insults.
Then the two sit down side by side. They present pictures of themselves in their youth with various anecdotes about themselves. As is expected, the banter is consistently hilarious and their naturalistic interactions make it hard to differentiate between what’s scripted and improved. The duo works so incredibly well together. Steve Martin has a much more subtle, droll delivery to his jokes while Martin Short will fully dedicate himself to any gag, pushing every bit to its limits.
At a certain point the two stars of the show separate. Martin Short accompanied by pianist Jeff Babko goes into a lengthy riff about his career before his big break. Short improves plenty and Babko is able to follow his lead. Then Short goes into a musical number “Step Brother to Jesus,” which concludes with a daring gag by Short, one that’s equally outrageous and hilarious. As he exits the stage, Short says to Martin, “Top that, motherfucker.” That is one of the few instances in the show where foul language is used, both opting for a more suggestive style of humor which is why the MF-bomb dropped by Short is so surprisingly funny.
When it comes time for Steve Martin’s musical portion of the show, he walks out on stage with his banjo, plucking along and joking about until he’s joined by The Steep Canyon Rangers. Martin and the band play a lively bluegrass number and one that doesn’t feature the comedy that Short brought to his musical performance.
An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life is a funny, sometimes touching special. You can truly feel the bonds of friendship between these two legendary performers, the mutual respect and admiration that comes through even their most cutting insults. In some regards, this two-man show is a lot like Oh, Hello (also on Netflix) but without the profane edge that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney bring to their show. For just over an hour, you can enjoy two great comedians cracking up the audience with a relaxed, brilliant show that reminds us just how great these two have been for so long. It has long been said that dying is easy; comedy is hard. Steve Martin and Martin Short make it look effortless.