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Friday, March 10, 2006

snl: the best of steve martin

My wife and I recently watched SNL: The Best of Steve Martin on DVD. Steve Martin is a thoroughly entertaining actor and commedian. Not every one of his efforts pays off, but there's enough gems found throughout his 30+ year career that I believe he truly deserves the label of comic genius. He's hosted SNL so many times, and I remember so many funny bits he did on the show that I was really looking forward to this DVD.

Unfortunately, I think I got my expectations too high. It's starts off great, with one of the funniest things he ever did - opening the show with the "Not Going To Phone It In Tonight" song - that's as funny now as it was when it originally aired 15 years ago. The disc has a lot from his mid-70's stand-up routines, which I had memorized when I was in junior high school after listening to his records 20 times or more. Somehow, it just didn't seem funny on the DVD. I thought after all these years it would be hilarious again, but I still remember just about every word of those routines, and it just seemed kind of pathetic. To me, it was more like watching a historical documentary on mid-70s standup comedy than watching something that was actually supposed to be funny. I think this just shows how smart Steve Martin really is - he knew his brand of standup, as hilarious as it is when you first hear it, wasn't going to provide him a very long career, and he quickly got into comedic acting, which he became equally skillful at, if not better. Note: I did enjoy watching the "King Tut" performance, also from those early years - unlike the monologues, that seemed to age quite well.

In addition, many of the sketches that they chose for this disc were mediocre (like "Theodoric of York/Medieval Barber"), and a couple were quite bad (like the "Festrunk Brothers" - many people probably find them hilarious, but I don't get it). I remember much funnier sketches that were left off, such as his "Holiday Wish" routine. With so much Martin material they could have chosen from, the producers really could have done a much better job. It's not all bad - for example, there was a great Conehead sketch where Martin appears at the Conehead home as an IRS agent, and a hilarious ad for "Steve Martin's Penis Cream." Overall, I can still recommend renting the DVD for Steve Martin fans, just don't expect to be rolling on the floor for an hour and 15 minutes.

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