Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Friday, October 07, 2005

More on Princeton

Brought to you by the ever-vigilant KMT
Princeton Packet
Perhaps a wild and crazy guy, but a literate one as well
Kara Fitzpatrick, Staff Writer 10/07/2005

Steve Martin reads from his works during Princeton University visit

Even before he set foot on the stage, Steve Martin had the audience laughing.

After a flattering introduction by author Joyce Carol Oates, Mr. Martin rose from his first-row seat and walked briskly toward the door. With the audience howling, Mr. Martin came right back in, with a smile, and began reading works from his impressive career as a fiction writer.

As part of a Princeton University creative writing program reading series, Mr. Martin — writer, comedian, actor and director — took the stage Wednesday at McCosh Hall to address hundreds of students, faculty and community members.

Reading excerpts from his works — some of which dated from his early days as a writer — Mr. Martin had no trouble getting an audience reaction.

Reciting "Side Effects" — a piece previously published in The New Yorker — Mr. Martin poked fun at the lengthy warnings that often accompany prescription drug commercials. Potential side effects from the mystery drug, his piece cautions, could range from visions of the Virgin Mary appearing in treetops to the acquisition of lumpy back syndrome.

"You may feel a sense of impending doom; this is because you are about to die," Mr. Martin read from "Side Effects."

In addition, Mr. Martin shared excepts from his novella "Shopgirl," which was published in 2000 and has been adapted into a movie starring himself and Clare Danes. "Shopgirl" will open in theatres later this fall.

After nearly an hour of readings, Mr. Martin fielded questions about his career and work.

When asked about the process of adapting "Shopgirl" from a novella to a screenplay, Mr. Martin said he was first inspired to convert the work after he began picturing movie scenes.

"The stillness of the book translates easily in the film," Mr. Martin explained.
Prompted by a question, Mr. Martin recalled his experience hosting the Oscars twice.

"The first time, I was like, 'What am I doing here?'" he said. The second time he played host, he said, the Oscars coincided with the night the war in Iraq started. He compared that scenario to one he experienced the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

As a young actor performing at California's Knott's Berry Farm, he and his cast had to determine whether to perform on the evening of President Kennedy's death.

"It was decided to go on — and we had one of the best shows of our life," he said. He added that the experience provided a valuable lesson: "You've got to deliver the show."

And delivering the show is something that Mr. Martin seems to do with ease. Even as he concluded his Wednesday appearance, he continued to charm the audience with his wit. Fumbling with his pile of notes, he dropped and sprinkled them all over the stage, clumsily pretending to lose his footing.

As he made his exit to applause, he placed the remaining sheets of paper in a recycling bin nearby the door. As the crowd began to shuffle out, fans snatched up the souvenirs on the paper-strewn stage.


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