Steve Martin reflects on stand-up comedy now versus the 1970s, and great opening lines

Steve Martin remains a great showman after all these years, and whether you want to nitpick about whether he has or hasn’t performed stand-up in the past 35 years and what constitutes stand-up exactly, but it’s great to see Martin entertaining the people live.

And that’s exactly what he did when he showed up as the surprise opening act for Jerry Seinfeld at the February installment of Seinfeld’s monthly residency (Jesse David Fox filed a superfan report for Vulture).

When Martin appeared with Edie Brickell on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday night, Martin even performed a custom song for the occasion to mark his entrance onstage — jokingly suggesting he’d used up all of his material.

Once onstage, Martin addressed his recent gig to Fallon, saying: “I did a little sample of stand-up, with Jerry…Seinfeld, I think that’s how it’s pronounced.”

“And I actually do enjoy doing stand-up, especially now, because, you know, life is so busy and so hectic, and with stand-up, I can just go out and relax, and enjoy the silence.”

You know what I love about that joke right there? That Martin delivers it with the same flair of David Letterman, who recently joined Martin and Martin Short on one of their tour stops.

As for the gig opening for Seinfeld? “It was fun. I was really flattered, at first, that Jerry asked me to open the show for him. And then I found out he considered it a double-blind comedy test, and I was the placebo.”

Now. You can compare how you think that joke worked with how Martin, Seinfeld and Short thought it would, if you roll this clip! You’ll also hear Martin share stories of old opening lines he’d heard back in the 1970s and 1980s from the likes of Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →