December 3, 2010

Steve Martin is in trouble.

For luring people to pay $50 to hear him interviewed and then having the interview be all about the art world and his book about the art world.
It is exactly — exactly — like demanding your money back because Elton John didn't play "Rocket Man." 
No, it's like going to see Elton John and demanding your money back because he played only classical music — and not at the level of a professional classical pianist.

60 comments:

deborah said...

I think you got screwed at that Dylan concert.

Scrutineer said...

Maybe it was a prank.

Mark O said...

That was Dylan? The music didn't look the same.

Clyde said...

Let's get small refunds.

Pogo said...

People paid $50 to watch a Steve Martin interview?

His colonoscopy would be more interesting, especially if there were polyps.

Lincolntf said...

What a jerk.

Bob_R said...

Seriously, $50 for tickets to an interview with someone - anyone - on a book tour? Blue America is just different I guess.

MadisonMan said...

Did we read the same article? That's not what I took away from it at all.

Meade said...

"Steve Martin is in trouble."

Trouble? Trouble?
I knew trouble. I served with trouble...

"His colonoscopy would be more interesting, especially if there were polyps."

Now THAT would be trouble.

Drew said...

Some friends of mine when to see Steve Martin play bluegrass last year. They knew what they were getting when they purchased their tickets. They did not require him to do a stand-up comedy performance to make the event worthwhile.

EDH said...

"Well, excuuuuse meee!"

Fred4Pres said...

Yeah Steve, why charge?

rdkraus said...

Here's the Y listing:

Steve Martin with Deborah Solomon


Steve Martin is a celebrated writer, actor and performer. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood and The Spanish Prisoner, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He’s won Emmy Awards for his television writing and two Grammy Awards for comedy albums. In addition to a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, he has written a best-selling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel and a best-selling novella, Shopgirl. His most recent novel is An Object of Beauty: A Novel.


Does not tell you much about what to expect.

Patrick said...

New York audiences tend to be provincial and unsophisticated. they eschew difficult forms of art, and are usually unwilling to push the limits of that with which they are comfortable.

Lincolntf said...

My main beef with the author's beef is that he uses 4 successive paragraphs in the middle of his article to state pretty much the exact same thing.
As to Martin, he has every right to talk about whatever he wants, but I'd be curious how the event was promoted. 50 beans isn't cheap when you're basically listening to an author's sales pitch.
Sounds like the "Y" producers were neither polite nor professional, and I'd like to hear their extended version of events.

ricpic said...

You've gotta understand that Steve Martin is basically a bum with attitude. Not that he didn't work hard to establish himself but ever since he's phoned in his roles. When I was a New Yawker bumming around myself I'd many times pass Martin sitting in an upper west side Starbucks idling the afternoon away. The attitude part is that he's tuned into the finer things. Hey Steve, it's not an achievement to drop some art names in order to establish your bona fides with "the people who count."

Pogo said...

"Does not tell you much about what to expect."

For $50, I'd expect a good night kiss, but that's just me.



Steve Martin's Colonoscopy might be a cool video game.

jr565 said...

You got a steve martin interview, where he touched upon various subjects. You dont get your money back.

Meade said...

"Steve Martin's Colonoscopy might be a cool video game. "

$50.
Thanks in advance for purchasing it through the trouble-free Althouse Amazon portal!

Christopher said...

What's boring is 80% of that story, in which the writer goes on and on and on and on and on saying the same thing.

Too many jims said...

rdkraus said...
Here's the Y listing: . . .
Does not tell you much about


Also from the Y listing:

Brief Biography
Deborah Solomon has been an art critic, art historian and magazine writer. She currently writes a weekly column for the New York Times Magazine, under the heading "Questions For..."

So, Martin (who is trying to sell his book about the art world) is being interviewed by an art critic and art historian. I can see why the audience expected to hear him talk about what it was like writing for the Smothers Brothers or playing bluegrass or making balloon animals at Disneyland.

Admittedly, I have it on good authority that Martin chose the interviewer because she had the best pussy.

Christopher said...

Oh, and no offense intended to Althouse on the boring-ness of the story.

@ricpic: Martin is no art dilettante, dropping names. He's been a serious collector for years.

peter hoh said...

It's the 92nd Street Y. What were they expecting?

Lincoln, have you seen the prices they charge to hear the likes of Brit Hume speak after dinner these days?

Franco said...

The presenter made a huge mistake in how they sold this event.

They don't know their audience, which seem to be fairly rich folks who want to pay $50 for the regular celebrity drivel the rest of us can get for free.

I'm a big fan of Martin the guy,(read his autobiography, or better listen to it read by the author) and Steve Martin the groundbreaking comedian, not much for him as an actor.

I wouldn't pay $50 to listen to him talk about art. I might listen politely for free as long as it didn't go on too long...

Pogo said...

It must be hell for a court jester to become a Serious Man but still have people ask him to put an arrow in his head and make balloon animals.

It's like being rich for inventing Bean-O (a flatulence remedy). No matter how many charity boards you serve on, your legacy is fart management.

I apologize for my barbarian ways, Steve, but can you do that wild and crazy guy thingy just one more time?

Psota said...

Play "Free Bird!"

Lincolntf said...

Peter, I go to a handful of those speaking engagements every year, though not in NY (Dick Morris is my perennial favorite). They come in all shapes, sizes and expense tiers. If I had paid $50 I wouldn't have expected all that much from Martin, but I have paid as little as $25 and still felt ripped off.

AllenS said...

I like the tune he played using only his dog whistle.

peter hoh said...

Lincoln -- my mistake. My comment was directed at Bob R, who made the "Blue America is different" comment.

Triangle Man said...

According to someone who was at the event the issue was more that Solomon was incompetent as an interviewer, not that a discussion of art is too boring, or it was somehow different from what was expected. Having said that, it is remarkable to me that anyone would care how an audience at the 92nd street Y reacted to anything.

Michael said...

It appears that Martin was being "interviewed" by an amateur or someone who otherwise didn't know how to properly move the interviewee from topic to topic.

My wife hates Martin but I find him pretty interesting. i haven't read his novels but he has written them. I haven't seen his art collection but he has one. I haven't heard his banjo playing but others have. I would say he is a pretty talented guy with diverse interests.

Jana said...

Eyewitness account counters the narratives out in the mainstream press:
http://emdashes.com/2010/12/more-on-martin-and-solomon-and.php

peter hoh said...

I vaguely recall hearing about a Terry Riley organ recital that didn't go over well with most of those who showed up. They didn't know who Terry Riley was, but they had some pretty clear expectations for an organ recital in a church.

The got something liek this.

peter hoh said...

Jana, thanks for that link.

As I've said before, the best part of this blog is when commenters actually know their stuff -- or can point to people who do.

victoria said...

I have to preface this by saying that I am a huge Steve Martin fan. All the way back to "The Smother's Brothers" in the late '60's. He has been a collector of modern art since the '60's and I understand that his collection is awesome. If you have heard any interviews with him over the last, let's say, 20 years, you know that he is interested in many, many diverse subjects, not the least of which is modern art. Anyone who goes to hear him speak should know that. I wish I had been in NY to see him. I would have paid the $50 to see him.

He is an interesting guy with lots of opinions about things that are interesting to me.

Kind of sounds like Rickie Nelson in the song, "Garden Party." "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."


Vicki from Pasadena

edutcher said...

People get a little ticked these days when an event turns out to be somebody hawking something.

Ann Althouse said...

It is exactly — exactly — like demanding your money back because Elton John didn't play "Rocket Man.

No, it's like going to an Elton John concert in the first place. As soon as he starts, you ask for your money back.

David S. Lott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

rdkraus,

Does not tell you much about what to expect.

Where does it say "Stuffed shirt bullshit about the wine and cheese crowd"?

Really.

David said...

One born every minute.

David said...

peter hoh said...
It's the 92nd Street Y. What were they expecting?

Good point, Peter.

john said...

A bit of Mr Martin at his best, sure to warm you up on this chilly morning.

reader_iam said...

Jana: Thanks for that link.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Elton John was trained in classical piano.

The new album with Leon Russell is good stuff - no pop, has an edge.

J Lee said...

I will give the Times credit -- they did report on this two days ago, even though the gist of the piece made their own employee appear out of touch on what the people paying the $50 had come to the Y expecting to see (whether or not they realized Solomon was coming off as clueless in the article is another question entirely).

I'm sure just like a musician with other songs/genre interests gets tired of doing the same thing or answering the same questions over and over again, Martin's tired of being pigeonholed by his image from the late 1970s and early 1980s. But if you're going to do follow-ups to Peter Sellers' Pink Panther series as your most recent mass-media exposure and if the Y advertised the event as an evening with comedian Steve Martin, it's not a big surprise that the folks who shelled out $50 wanted to hear at least a little bit about what made Martin interesting to them, and not exclusively what Martin and Solomon were interest in talking about.

Kirby Olson said...

He knows quite a bit about contemporary art. He's a close friend of the art critic for the NEW YORKER, and his books often reference fairly difficult art world concepts. This is also true for Andy Kaufman and many other stand-up comedians. Many of them were quite familiar with the world of performance art, and with the notions of the found object, the meta-irony of Duchamp, and so on.

He went to art school.

Born Standing Up has a lot of art world references, and references both serious and comic to art theory.

I haven't loved his attempts to go serious. There's something Woody Allenish about it. He tries to be serious, and it's kind of comical, but in the bad way.

ironrailsironweights said...

Admittedly, I have it on good authority that Martin chose the interviewer because she had the best pussy.

You all know how I would define "best" in that context.

Peter

traditionalguy said...

I remember Dylan going electric caused a snit fit among Folk Song aficionados. Steve's presence makes my want to laugh at something just by the way he looks at things around him. That YMCA crowd must be philistine jerks.

Amartel said...

"Admittedly, I have it on good authority that Martin chose the interviewer because she had the best pussy."

Oh, now, COME ON.

Some people have a way with words and other people...ohhh, not have way, I guess.

I believe in equality. Equality for everybody. No matter how stupid they are or how much better I am than they are.

And this one's for The Crack Emcee:

It's so hard to believe in anything anymore. Take religion, it seems so mythological, so arbitrary...but science is based on pure empiricism, and by virtue of its method it excludes metaphysics. I guess I wouldn't believe in anything if it weren't for my lucky astrology mood watch.

Trooper York said...

Steve Martin is the NPR of comedians.

Amartel said...

Steve Martin: Funny. Totally original. Plays banjo. Interested in art.

NPR: Not Funny. Sad. Pitiful. Totally conformist. Occasional banjo bumper music. Solicits art that complements sad, pitiful, unfunny, conformist narrative.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/12/i-saw-steve-martin-talk-about-art-and-it-didnt-suck.html

Kirby Olson said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgTPH5y1-ZI

King Tut vid is great: it's Henry Winkler holding the pyramids made out of cardboard behind him. I think he shows a strong visual sense in how he does the hieroglyphics and brings them to life?

There's nothing quite like this in the annals of standup.

Preston said...

From the linked article: "But the way the Y responded was stunning. Not only did it chastise and undermine an interviewer and a guest in the middle of a live event, but the next day, it offered everyone who was there a full refund in the form of a credit toward a future event. . . .'"
--------------------

I rather liked that the Y offered a virtually costless future credit as a sort of money-back guarantee. What's not to like about that?

Trooper York said...

Well Steve Martin was kinda cool in the early 1970's.

Like leg warmers and matching head and wrist bands.

Now not so much.

But hey you do have to fill up spots in the Overrated Hall of Fame.

Harry said...

I went to art school and make my living as a commercial artist but I find there's nothing more boring and pretentious than "art talk," especially if it involves modern art. When I go to a gallery and read the little one-page piece by the artist explaining what art means to him/her, why he/she paints, it's always so convoluted in its futile attempt to avoid sounding cliched or vapid that it makes me winch, even if they may be good artists.

So my sympathies are with the audience.

Timon said...

16 Cui autem similem aestimabo generationem istam? Similis est pueris sedentibus in foro, qui clamantes coaequalibus
17 dicunt:
“Cecinimus vobis, et non saltastis;
lamentavimus, et non planxistis”.

Matthew 11: 16-17

JAL said...

You can watch Steve play banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers for a lot less.

More entertaining.

former law student said...

The comments to that article saying how the interviewer was obsessed with trivial parts of the new book, which no one in the audience could yet have read, ring true.

We've all been to talks where one clueless questioner monopolizes the guest with questions only he cares about. We all pray to hear something else.

The interviewer is there to gratify the audience, not merely her own curiosity.

Lawgiver said...

Bowfinger,
Chubby Rain, Mindhead,
comic genius.

Irene said...

Steve Martin offers an erasure;
the Wall Street Journal wonders whether Dylan should retire.

Chip Ahoy said...

Man oh man, how many paragraphs does it take to flog a dead horse? Apparently fourteen.

Speaking of dead horses -- This is real. A schoolboy answers a test question: What does one horsepower mean? Answer: One horse power is the energy it takes to drag a dead horse one mile.