Steve Martin and Martin Short talk about the importance of Scrabble in their friendship

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk about the importance of Scrabble in their friendship

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Steve Martin and Martin Short are coming to Milwaukee on May 12 as part of their “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today!” tour. We talk about how Scrabble started their relationship, how it grew, what songs they are listening to and the new show.

Justin Barney talks with Steve Martin and Martin Short

Steve Martin and Martin Short met on the set of the movie “Three Amigos,” where their friendship started, partially, over a game of Scrabble.

Justin Barney: I was reading into a bit how you guys met on the set of the Three Amigos, and I had seen one thing where Martin, you said that one of the first things that you bonded over was Scrabble. Is that true?

Martin Short: We did. We played a lot of Scrabble during making Three Amigos with Chevy, Steve, and myself.

Steve Martin:

And what was great about it is Marty was never embarrassed by always losing.

Martin Short:

No. Well, I was just so aware that I was so much younger than you two and would live so much longer that it gave me that extra kind of sense of happiness.

Steve Martin:

Right. And also our words were in… The words we scored with were in Old English.

Martin Short:

That’s true.

Steve Martin:

Yeah.

How did you know that this was a connection point? Or how did it start?

Martin Short:

Oh, I think someone said, “Hey, do you want to play Scrabble?”

Steve Martin:

No, no. Well, we bonded through comedy, and we had the same… We appreciated, I don’t know, each other’s comedy. Or I had no comedy, he had comedy, and I just latched onto him. I sort of…

Martin Short:

Steve, you had no comedy? So all those filling up Madison Square Gardens were just lotto wins?

Steve Martin:

I’m talking about personal comedy.

Martin Short:

Oh yeah.

Steve Martin:

So I just latched onto his leg. I held onto his leg and sat on his foot as he walked around for about two weeks.

I think part of your charm is digging on each other during the show, which is very funny, and just the best part of an old friendship is always giving it to each other. But Steve, what is the nice thing about working with Martin Short? Why do you like working with Martin Short?

Steve Martin:

Well, we never fight. There’s not a moment of like, “Oh, I hate it when he does that,” although Marty might have it for me, but I…

Martin Short:

No, I am getting out my list.

Steve Martin:

Yeah, you have a list. He keeps a list, a two-page list.

Martin Short:

Santa Claus keeps smaller lists than I do.

Steve Martin:

We have the same goal, which is to do a good show, and we have the same interest in gossip. And Marty, I have some hot gossip when we’re done with these interviews that I want to talk to you about.

Martin Short:

Is that true?

Steve Martin:

Yes.

Love this.

Steve Martin:

But you know…

Martin Short:

No, I think it is not more complicated than most people who become close friends. It is humor, absolutely. But it’s also a respect for the other person’s human decency, and the way he treats people and the way he interacts in situations that could be go either way. And you like that person because they are fair and kind and wise, and therefore the friendship grows.

And I think that it’s aspirational for a friendship. I think that when we see it on stage, it reminds everybody of their oldest friend who you’ve run out of all the important things to say. So you’re onto just bits and digging at each other and gossip and fun.

Martin Short:

Right.

So this is the “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today” tour. How is it the same as old tours and how is it a bit different?

Steve Martin:

We are constantly working on our show, and so it’s always… I’d say after every show, there’s at least an incremental change. And then occasionally he will come up with a whole new five minute routine that we put in. So from, I don’t know, the last… At least we weren’t… We were there at… We were within… I can’t get this out. We haven’t been there probably for five or six years. And our show is probably 70 to 80% different than what we gauge is Netflix show…

Yeah.

Steve Martin:

Because that’s what people have seen. So we keep the structure the same because we like that. In fact, we played with the structure and decided we like the old structure. Of course, the only structural change was in our show now, I come out and then I introduce Marty. And we thought, let’s try it where we both come out. And then we both came out and we thought, “Eh. We like it the old way.” But we do have new lines and new things, and we’re always kind of tweaking it.

Steve Martin:

And I’m looking for a new partner, so there’s…

Martin Short:

Yeah, right.

Steve Martin:

Always in the mix, yeah.

Okay, great So, we’re a music station. We’re going to come out of this with a song. Martin Short, what’s the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?

Martin Short:

The last song I couldn’t stop… Well, it had to be by Mungo Jerry, probably “In The Summertime.”

Steve Martin:

Really?

Martin Short:

No, I’m joking. I don’t know. The last song I couldn’t stop listening.

Steve Martin:

I’m surprised you even know Mungo Jerry.

Martin Short:

Well I have a references level, if that’s what you mean?

Steve Martin:

Yeah.

Martin Short:

I would say the last song that I couldn’t stop listening to was, I just heard James Taylor sing “Up on a Roof.”

Steve Martin:

Oh, that’s nice.

And why do you like that song? Or what did it speak to you?

Martin Short:

I just love that song. Great song, great singer.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as that.

Martin Short:

Yeah.

So Steve Martin…

Steve Martin:

You are going to hate the song that’s stuck in my head.

Great. Love that.

Steve Martin:

But I don’t know your format.

It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty.

Steve Martin:

Okay, it doesn’t matter. The last song that got stuck in my head as of yesterday was “Baby Shark.” Because my daughter was singing it. By the way, she knows it drives us nuts, so she was singing it aggressively. And so now it’s in my head, Baby Shark.

Martin Short:

And when she sings those songs, Steve, don’t you like to pick her up and twirl her?

Steve Martin:

Oh yes. When Baby Shark comes on, she runs in, and I always pick her up by the arms and swing her around, yes.

Martin Short:

That is so cool. How old is your daughter now?

Steve Martin:

She’s 54.

Martin Short:

I see. That’s a limber girl.

All right, well that is perfect and fantastic. Steve Martin and Martin Short, they’re coming to Milwaukee on the “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today” tour at the Riverside Theater on May 12th. Event starts at 8:00.

Steve Martin:

May 12.

Doors are at 7:00.

Steve Martin:

The countdown begins.

The countdown begins. Steve Martin, Martin Short. Thank you so much for joining me and for talking to us, and setting aside some time.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee