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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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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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