Steve Martin Is Hitting the Road With Martin Short, Banjo In Hand

Before getting the chance to speak with Steve Martin, you start to really wonder who Steve Martin is. He's King Tut, but he's also The Jerk. He's dueled banjos with Kermit the Frog and even pissed himself as Ruprecht in what is, safe to say, one of the best movies ever made, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Something else he'll also always be is one of the Three Amigos. He's currently touring with Martin Short who costarred with him in the 1986 comedy. They are two of the funniest men of their generation.

And Martin is by far one of the most successfully versatile. He is currently working on his first musical, with Edie Brickell, called Bright Star. He told us that if he shared the plot, it'd ruin it but did divulge that it's set in the 1920s and '40s and "reveals a secret about a woman's life."

On the Hard Rock Live stage this week in Hollywood, we can expect to hear at least one Three Amigos song, and Martin has put together a stellar crew of bluegrass musicians to back him up while the Steep Canyon Rangers are unavailable. Here's what he had to say about his instrument of choice, Martin Short, and the late Robin Williams.

New Times: Did you ever think of bringing along Chevy Chase to make up the full Three Amigos?

Steve Martin: Well, right now we're the two amigos. Marty and I just had some dates we did on our own. We did some comedy festivals where we just kind of interviewed each other. And it went really well. And we so enjoyed doing it that we worked out some material, and now it's turned into a full-fledged show. We really enjoy it. Marty has a solo show on his own, and I have a solo show that I do with the band, and we combined the best elements of both. Although Marty doesn't have any best elements. I'm the only one who has the best elements.

What do you think about some indie bands taking up the banjo these days? Are you encouraged by it?

Absolutely. I think that the banjo... well, I don't want it to be a mainstream instrument, because it's actually not versatile enough. It's really a specialty instrument. It works so well with certain instruments, like the fiddle or violin or cello, in orchestral situations. It depends on how you play it. It can be played in many different ways. It can be played in a melancholy way. It can be played in a fast, uptempo way; it can be strummed. It could be a lead instrument like it is in bluegrass. But in rock 'n' roll, it'll always kind of be there to provide atmosphere. I like people seeing it more; they get used to it, and it doesn't become unfamiliar to them when they hear it in our situation, which is as a lead instrument.

I don't know if it's too soon, but you Tweeted about Robin Williams. Is there anything you wanted to say about his passing?

I haven't really been able to digest anything to say about it. It's just so puzzling and sad. As far as any further sophisticated thoughts about it, I'm still trying to formulate something to say about it other than that it's puzzling and deeply sad for the people who knew him and for the world, really.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy