Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steve Martin Gives Us Another Object of Beauty

Somewhere during the course of the last couple of decades Steve Martin very quietly became our generation’s Renaissance man. Hard to believe we’re saying that about a guy who first found fame with a fake arrow through his head, but it’s true.

Once considered merely a writer and stand-up comedian, Martin has transformed into a master of many trades. Consider his list of accomplishments:

• 1967 — Steve lands a gig as writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and a comedic genius is born. He even wins an Emmy with the rest of the writing staff in 1969. Stints on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour follow.

• October 23, 1976 — Steve Martin hosts Saturday Night Live for the first time. As of now, he’s been the special guest star more than anyone else, although Alec Baldwin is constantly nipping at his heals.

• 1977 — Steve releases the comedy album Let’s Get Small, which peaks at #10 on the Billboard Pop Album Chart. It will be the first of four brilliant comedy albums.

• 1978 — Steve publishes Cruel Shoes, a collection of equally funny short stories. He’ll repeat the feat in 1998 with a similar work called Pure Drivel.

• 1978 — Martin’s novelty-song single “King Tut” soars to #17 on the U.S. charts. Sadly he did not win a Grammy buried in his jammies.

• December 14, 1979 — He takes his humor to the big screen in his first leading role when The Jerk opens. He also happened to co-write the flick, which was directed by Carl Reiner.

• 1982 — Martin receives his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor — Comedy/Musical for Pennies from Heaven. He’d get four more such nods for All of Me, Roxanne, Parenthood and Father of the Bride.

• February 12, 1988 — He wins a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for Roxanne.

• October 13, 1993 — He opens the first play he’s penned, Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois. Successful runs in Los Angeles and New York follow.

• April 22, 1996 — He contributes his first piece in The New Yorker entitled “Yes, in My Own Backyard.”

• 2000 — He publishes his first novella Shopgirl, which will later become an underrated film starring Martin and Claire Danes. His second novella, The Pleasure of My Company is equally good and under appreciated.

• March 25, 2001 — He hosts the Oscars for the first time. He’ll repeat again solo in 2003 and with Alec Baldwin at his side in 2010.

• November 20, 2007 — Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life — He gives fans all a peak at his inner workings in his thoroughly engaging autobiography.

• May 19, 2009 — He finally releases his first album of banjo-fueled Americana music called The Crow: New Songs for the Five String Banjo. He embarks on a tour. The album would win the Grammy for Best Bluesgrass Album in 2010. It wasn’t Steve’s first for music, he was part of the Grammy-winning Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” in 2002. And of course, already had two for comedy albums.

• September 8, 2010 — He puts out a kids’ book called Late for School, which is illustrated by C.F. Payne and accompanied by a CD featuring original Martin performed banjo tunes.

And along the way he collected a ton of art, won a bunch of other awards, starred in and wrote a whole lot of movies and made the occasional guest appearances on shows like 30 Rock. Heck, he’s even been funny on Twitter. We have no idea if Steve can cook a gourmet meal or make his own clothes, but nothing would surprise us.

So, it’s with great anticipation that we hit the local bookstore tomorrow to pick up a copy of his first full-length work of fiction — the 304-page An Object of Beauty: A Novel. Set in the art world, advance word is that it’s full with all of the biting wit we’ve come to expect from the Wild and Crazy Guy.  

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