Last week, audiences at a Steve Martin talk at the 92nd Street Y were offered a refund after apparent complaints due to the fact that Martin was talking with interviewer Deborah Solomon about the art world and his new novel “An Object of Beauty” instead of, you know, funny stuff. As my colleague Matt Singer wrote, “it’s hard not to see the audience’s reaction as a pretty horrifying example of our instant gratification culture’s dark side.” Today at the Guardian, Brian Logan mused:
We load comics with expectations; we depend on them to prove that life is funny, to undermine seriousness and release tension. It can be disorientating and disappointing when they submit to the seriousness of life. When they reveal their prosaic desire to be taken seriously, just like you and me.
Fortunately for all, Martin and Stephen Colbert proved that it’s absolutely possible to have funny, clever conversation about art without being the least bit boring on last night’s “Colbert Report.” Martin and Colbert debated the value of Colbert’s “last season portrait,” with artists Frank Stella, Shepard Fairey and Andres Serrano appearing to offer their assistance. As Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times pointed out, it’s very “Annie Hall.”