Ten reasons to love Steve Martin that aren’t his movies


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The formerly wild and still somewhat crazy guy known as Steve Martin is a national treasure. He’s an intellectual with a strong bent towards the goofy, he’s a weirdo with a well-developed appreciation for the finer things, and to duel with him at banjos is to court certain doom. Yes, he’s a movie star, but we’ve discussed those before. With the much sought after release of his stand-up concerts and TV materials finally coming to pass with “Steve Martin: The Television Stuff,” it’s high time to illustrate what makes this guy a Renaissance Man to be admired for all time. So here are ten reasons to love Steve Martin that aren’t his movies.

1. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Steve’s first big showbiz break came when he got a job writing for The Smothers Brothers show, where he won an Emmy with the rest of the writing staff. When Tom and Dick Smothers learned that Steve wasn’t officially on the payroll, but rather was getting paid out of head writer Mason Williams’ own pocket, they gave him a shot on screen. Steve worked in a magic shop when he was younger, and he mastered the art of magicianship well enough to completely subvert it. So here’s one of his earliest TV appearances (not counting his guest spots on The Dating Game).

2. The Stand-Up Cometh

Steve was always a different kind of comedian. He could do some standard observational stuff, as you can see here in this early appearance on Midnight Special where he discusses the advent of electric hand dryers and seat belt buzzers, but you could see his real taste for the absurd developing as well. He always loved to flummox audience expectations by going in a weird non-sequitur sort of direction, and this was a stop on his way to worldwide icon status.

3. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Steve was one of Johnny’s favorite acts, and back in those days, appearing on Carson once could change your life. Appearing as often as Steve did meant you were a bona fide celebrity. He always made an effort to bring some new piece of comedy business along with him whenever he appeared on talk shows – and he still does to this day. His work ethic and reliable talent even impressed Johnny enough that he asked Steve to guest-host The Tonight Show for him, and what he did with that, you can see right here.

4. Saturday Night Live

Steve’s arrival on the comedy scene coincided with the debut of this underground sketch comedy show tucked away on the middle of the night on a weekend, and he guest-starred alongside The Not Ready For Prime Time Players so often that many people forget he wasn’t technically one of the. Steve’s appearances would always spike the ratings of SNL, and that platform helped rocket him into comedy superstardom. For example, the swinging Festrunk Brothers, starring Steve and Dan Aykroyd as horny Czechs trying to cruise successfully for foxes with big American breasts, made him well known as a “wild and crazy guy,” and audiences would come to expect him to bust that out in his own shows. He’s hosted SNL 15 times, one shy of the record set by Alec Baldwin, who made it his mission to try and eclipse Steve’s benchmark.

5. The Comedy Albums

Of course, a stand-up comic as refined in his precision as Steve Martin was made it perfect for records that people could listen to in their homes, even though a great deal of his act was based on mugging and physicality. On his albums – Let’s Get Small, A Wild and Crazy Guy, Comedy Is Not Pretty – a lot of those classic bits still translated, thanks to his energy, but he was also able to get into more intellectual comedy, discussing philosophy, religion and languages – showcasing where his tastes would eventually take him. That said, his non-sequitur appreciation was very much present and highly entertaining, as evidenced by this meaningful little song his grandmother used to sing to him.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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