Steve Martin: A Comedy Legend
In any discussion about comedy legends, Steve Martin’s name will undoubtedly come up. As a stand up comedian, he managed to create his own freewheeling style that ended up defining a generation of comedians. Contrary to other popular acts of the past, Steve Martin’s act felt unscripted and completely haphazard.
During a time when comedians often released comedy albums, Steve Martin was a king. His first album, Let’s Get Small, went platinum, and even led, somewhat ironically, to a national catchphrase. His next album, Wild and Crazy Guy, was based on a series of wildly successful and crazily popular segments he did on Saturday Night Live with Dan Akroyd. This album went platinum and reached No. 2 on the US sales charts, selling over a million copies. In 2004 he ranked #6 on Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, and in 2005 he was awarded the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Much of his stand up success was thanks in part to his television appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. These stages allowed for national recognition of his style, something that was much more difficult to foster before the Internet. Steve Martin even guest hosted the Tonight Show, and is currently in an epic battle with Alec Baldwin for first place in number of times hosting SNL. In fact, many people don’t realize Steve Martin was never actually a regular cast member on the series.
Lately, Steve has focused more on his banjo playing. For years he incorporated it into his comedy routines, but now he seems to be taking it a little more seriously. Or at least as seriously as you can take an instrument as upbeat and funny sounding as the banjo. In fact, in 2001 Steve played with Earl Scruggs in a remake of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which went on to win a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance. This victory makes Steve Martin one of the very few who has won Grammies for both comedy recordings as well as musical recordings.