Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

USA Today on the Mark Twain Show

October 24, 2005, Monday, FINAL EDITION
LIFE; Pg. 3D
It's Steve Martin's night
Karen Thomas

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Zany was the mood Sunday at the Kennedy Center, where there were no arrow hats, just lots of tuxes and good-natured barbs.

Comedians gathered to honor Steve Martin, recipient of this year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, for his work as an actor, comedian, author (he published two novellas, Shopgirl and The Pleasures of My Company), playwright (he has written two Broadway plays, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Underpants) and musician (he played banjo on Earl Scruggs' song Foggy Mountain Breakdown.) The award ceremony will air Nov. 9 on PBS.

Martin, 60, and his Three Amigos! co-star Martin Short hammed it up on the red carpet, with Martin insisting "this is my night," as Short mingled with fans. "You get in there," the honoree said, pointing to the concert hall entrance and mocking Short's height.

The show included movie clips and tributes. Fellow Twain award winner Lily Tomlin said "may this award bring you a lucrative modeling career."

Mike Nichols and Eric Idle spoke simultaneously (in the interest of time, the announcer said) while Paul Simon played The Sound of Martin on guitar. Dave Barry, who was on Martin's writing team for the 2001 Academy Award show, joked about Martin's first e-mail to him. "It said, 'I'm hosting the Oscars and would like to put together a team of geniuses. Do you know any?'"

The Twain award is a "great honor," Martin said before the show, but even better, "it's a gathering of friends." He recalled getting his start performing stand-up at the Kennedy Center in 1976.

Pre-show tributes on the red carpet came from old friends: Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels recalled meeting Martin in 1976, the second season of SNL. "He made the show," Michaels said. And from new friends: Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David has known him only about four years, "but I could be off by two years on either side," he joked. "He's fastidious," joked David, adding that Martin, a long-time collector, also has "great taste in art."

"He plays a great banjo, too," added Monty Python's Idle.


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