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Steve Martin

December 27, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
Steve Martin, renowned for his comedic dexterity, is also appreciated for his contributions to many other aspects of the arts as playwright, actor, author, collector, and musician. His broad artistic success hasn’t detracted from his pervasive and poignant sense of humor. As he told the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts: "I believe entertainment can aspire to art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you are an idiot."

Surprising Talents

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Early in December 2007, the Kennedy Center presented Martin with its Honors Award. The Kennedy Center commemorates his lifetime of achievement and provides a history of his background in an online biography.
Martin’s interests extend beyond the award-winning. Not many people know that Steve Martin is also a banjo player, but if you visit the list of all his projects on his Web site, you’ll find an index that includes not only music recordings, but movies, books, plays, television appearances, and much more.

Martin has even written an animated short film, Morto the Magician, about a magic show gone gruesomely awry. The film is witty and dynamic, but should be avoided by those who fear the sight of blood.

Martin also flexed his intellectual muscles to write a different kind of show: the much celebrated and oft-performed Picasso at the Lapin Agile. In the play, Martin imagines what would happen if Picasso, Einstein, and a third special visitor met at a Paris bar at the turn of the century.

In 2003, he supplied the New Yorker, to which Martin is a regular contributor, with another fondly satirical piece on Picasso, the fictional interview “Picasso Promoting ‘Lady with a Fan.’”

Never Far from Tut

Of course, Martin is more widely recognized for projects like the legendary King Tut skit he created for Saturday Night Live. Read the official SNL transcript of the skit, or watch the video on YouTube.

Martin’s remarkable diversity is demonstrated again in the 2005 film Shopgirl. The feature film, based on Martin’s novella of the same title, recounts the love triangle between a struggling department store employee, the wealthy but unfaithful man she worships, and the underdog who really loves her.

Shopgirl showed Martin’s darker side. In an interview with The Believer, Martin reflected, “You go through periods of your life where you’re skewed more dark and you’re skewed more light. Right now, I’m sort of dead in the middle.”

The Backstory

Most recently, Martin published an autobiography, Born Standing Up.  charting his early career as a stand-up comic. In an interview with NPR, Martin describes the decision to trade his stand-up career for acting and writing. But he remains particularly interested the "pre-success" stages of his career because  he “didn't have any gifts except perseverance."
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