Steve Martin and Martin Short have changed their show significantly over the years, but not in a way that you would immediately notice.
“We’ve got a new closure, we’ve got a new encore, we’ve got some new parts, we’ve got new jokes and I’ve got some new songs,” says Martin. “But we are gradually changing it. We don’t like, ‘Okay, let’s start at the top and write a whole new series.’ We’re not that smart.”
Martin references the duo’s song “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today!” shows Friday and Saturday at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. This is the latest iteration of the comedy music act they have been performing for more than a decade, including stops at The Mirage, The Smith Center and the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Jeff Babko is back at the piano, with special guests bluegrass band Alison Brown & The Fair Weather Friends. Expect a visit from Short’s “stepbrother to Jesus” character. Also, be ready for a Jiminy Glick revival, with Martin Short playing like a ventriloquist figure.
Martin will also showcase his musical virtuosity and show off his many banjos, a practice he describes as “a big ego trip”.
The veteran iconic comic book actors also have a hit on Hulu with “Only Murders in the Building,” starring co-star Selena Gomez, which celebrates its second season Tuesday.
Highlights from our last phone call:
Johnny Kats: I have to start with a refresher on Mr. Short. I’m the one who came to you on stage a few years ago to play you the bagpipes. We did three shows at the Mirage.
Martin Kurz: Oooh! I remember it clearly, yes.
Stephen Martin: Great. The bagpipes were one of the funnest parts of the show. It remains one of the funnest bits on the show.
I’m interested in you two as a team, and I’ll phrase the question this way: I knew Jerry Lewis very well in his later years, and he often returned to his Dean Martin years. He loved Dean. He was always proud of this partnership and happy to revisit that time. Is that how you identify as a partner now that you’ve done those live dates and the Hulu series?
Martin Kurz: I think that’s true. I think we go together like Florida and a back tattoo. Now we’re a team, right.
Stephen Martin: It’s funny, I don’t see us as partners, like we do everything together. We still have independent things that we do and we do two things together. We’re doing a live show and we’re doing this TV show, which kind of evolved from the live show. That’s why I thought of Marty, because I was like, ‘Well, why not Marty for it? He would be great.”
Marty did his one man show Las Vegas with Jeff on the piano. Steve, would you be willing to do solo performances in Las Vegas?
Martin: I would not. It’s a lot of work doing a solo spot and writing new material.
Short: Do you want to think about it Steve? Your opinion seems pretty tuned into that. do you wanna think about it
Steve, you played your first show here at the Hilton, right?
Martin: I did, I opened for Ann-Margret. I remember she was great and that was the worst comedy room I’ve ever played. Big theatre, right?
Yes, it was Elvis’ theater.
Martin: Did they tear it down? I thought they tore it down.
No, still there as Westgate. Barry Manilow is headlining there.
That was so long ago, around 1973. She was just great, I can tell you that.
I want to ask you about the Hulu series, specifically the cast of Selena Gomez.
Martin: Originally there were three older guys as main characters. Then a young woman suggested, we immediately said, “Oh, yes. I get that. It’s a good, fun idea.”
Short: The first person they said was Selena Gomez. We said, “Yes, we love her,” and then we did a reading. She was awesome. No question, we wanted them.
Was there an older person in mind who could join you both in the cast?
Martin: no They didn’t even have me and Marty in mind. We just talked about it. I told them the idea and they said, “Would you play it?” I said, “Well, I’ll do it if Marty does it,” because I figured he wouldn’t want to do it.
Short: Oh! (laughs) That’s it! Right!
Martin: So here we are.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] consequences @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.