Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Why Do You Hate Steve Martin?

I'm totally baffled by this brouhaha over the Steve Martin-Deborah Solomon discussion at the 92Y? According to the Times and others, it was a horrible nightmare and the audience is all actually getting refunds. But none of these accounts really make any sense or give any idea of what exactly was so horrible? Like this Mediaite account says: "Martin’s new novel is set inside the New York City art world, a world that he became familiar with through the years dating back to his time exploring galleries, museums, and libraries while on tour in different American cities. To Martin’s credit, he seems to know a good deal about the subject—he can even talk at length about the differences between the 'uptown' scene and the 'downtown' scene in New York." Not to be a snob or anything, but this seems like it was written by Borat. Steve Martin has been a major, major collector for ages, and kind of a weird one, collecting in weird areas across modern and pre-modern art; and I mean, he dated Cindy Sherman!; and also, you live in New York City, are you yourself unable to talk about current differences between uptown and downtown art? Anyway, maybe don't go to an event held by an art-world person in support of his book about the art world if hearing about it is apparently so bloody excruciating! (Update: This is a more helpful account, which puts the blame heavily on Solomon for largely rendering a book report.)

28 Comments / Post A Comment

dado (#102)

By virtue of his methods he excludes metaphysics. That's why.

libmas (#231)

“Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York, at the 92nd Street Y, would be interested in hearing about art and artists,” Ms. Solomon added in an e-mail. “I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it’s like to host the Oscars or appear in ‘It’s Complicated’ with Alec Baldwin. I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art.”


roithamer (#661)

Judging from this, it was Solomon that was the problem:

"Who is the real you?" Solomon preceded reading the question with a warning that Martin would "hate this question."

Christ, I hate just reading that question 3 days later.

Also: Why did 92nd Street Y feel the need to fall on their sword to the tune of 900 refund offers? It's not like Martin was a no-show. If specific people complained, offer them refunds. But don't carpet-bomb your attendees with the offer, that's just bad business.
I found this podcast fantastically dull so I appreciate the audience disappointment but WTF 92nd street Y??

Also, I will need 92nd Y to issue me a refund for last year's symposium featuring Joanna Smith Rakoff. I was really bored.

Kevin (#2,559)

Deborah Solomon is always the problem.

mishaps (#5,779)


HereKitty (#2,713)

Seriously. You knew she was a scorpion when you picked her up, 92nd Street Y-goers.

libmas (#231)

This was kind of what I was trying to get at with the above quote. When Deborah Solomon calls you a philistine, it's time to check your fly.

MaryHaines (#3,666)

I know – as soon as I read in the NYT that the conversation was with "Deborah Solomon, who writes a weekly interview column for The New York Times Magazine," I said, Ah, no wonder it was terrible. I have no trouble at all believing that she delivered a singularly stultifying experience to all in attendance; if she says the problem was that they "talked about art," I can read between the lines of her snippy responses in that NYT story and guess that the real problem was that she didn't give a rat's about anybody there besides her and her old friend Steve. I guess it COULD be the fault of the unsophisticated audience and their unrealistic expectations, unable to appreciate how truly fascinating it is to hear Solomon interview someone without her rewriting everything afterward — but having read what Solomon said in her defense I'm going to have to side with the audience.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

what the hell

Dave Bry (#422)

It's not Steve Martin that people hate. It's the cans he just happens to be standing in front of at the gas station where he works.

hockeymom (#143)

Mediate is such a crap website. It's all "on the one hand, but on the other…to be fair….but the other side does it too." A good percentage of their writers seem to be about 17 and ill-informed about the world in general. Finally, the comments are penned by a bunch of trolls. Not a fan.

Also, not a fan of Deborah Solomon, so I'm torn on this. She's obnoxious in print, can't imagine why she'd be any different in person.

I'm feeling very negative about this whole thing (though not so much about Martin. The book is about art, not wild and crazy guys.)

I need to take a happy pill, right now.

brianvan (#149)

If they expected Steve Martin to be funny, they should have went to see him 30 years ago.

(I really love Steve Martin but the joke was just hanging out there)

Peter Feld (#79)

Yes! In those days he would go on stage with a slice of baloney in each shoe, so he would "feel funny." #beoblongandhaveyourkneesremoved

jolie (#16)

I mean… go ahead and be a snob. I don't think any of us are going to complain. (Well. Maybe Abe will complain.)

keisertroll (#1,117)

A Steve Martin interview prompted me to do a book report on "The Razor's Edge". Nine years later, I demand my C+ upgraded to a B.

hman (#53)


eliotglazer (#7,196)

For the record, Steve turned to us early on and asked, "Is this boring?"

He knew. HE KNEW.

garge (#736)

I suppose that I don't believe that people should be entitled to a refund for boredom. Don't misunderstand me, I was thrilled when there was that class action lawsuit against Creed when the lead singer was on drugs and writhing on the floor incoherently for the duration of the concert–that is really funny, and considerably against expectations for a Christian Rock band! And I like that you can walk out of a movie in the first 30 minutes and exchange your ticket, so maybe I am a hypocrite? (NB., when I was a kid, I would get punished for saying I was bored! Insta-chores!)

Bittersweet (#765)

YES, garge! Did people really think Steve Martin was going to pull out his banjo with an arrow through his head while discussing his new book? C'mon.

(And I either got chores for proclaiming my boredom, or an order to go outside and run around the house 20 times.)

Legs Battaglia (#2,484)

as a child, i was told that if i was bored it's was because i was boring. surprisingly, it had a big impact.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

What, he didn't perform the "King Tut" song?

Charlie (#4,250)

all i need this ashtray, this chair and this lamp. AND THAT'S IT!

Claire Zulkey (#7,101)

How weird that the Y tried to control the conversation and offered refunds.

From what I know about Steve Martin, I wouldn't expect him to spend half his hourlong appearance talking about "King Tut" and "Little Shop of Horrors." He'd be talking about his latest thing, as boring as it may be. He's not really a greatest hits kind of guy (plus he published his memoirs about his career already). So I guess I'm not saying that I hate Steve Martin but I would have never expected him to be a warm and fuzzy comic who needs to remind everyone why the fell in love with him the first place.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

You know what’s funny about this? It’s yet another example of a comedian doing something not related to comedy and getting smacked down because of it.

• Woody Allen starts to get serious with films like “September” and suddenly people bitch, moan and ask “Why?”
• Adam Sandler does a fantastic job in “Punch Drunk Love” and practically everyone I have ever talked to about the film has to qualify their like by saying “I don’t normally like Adam Sandler, but…”
• Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation”? See above.
• Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” ? Ditto, above.
• Richard Belzer in “Law & Order”? Same as above and ditto and same.
• Steve Martin in “The Spanish Prisoner”? Blah, blah, blah, above!

“Comedy is not pretty…” (who said that) and it’s held in such social low regard anyone attempting to do something else is smacked down.

No respect. No respect at all!

And specific to Steve Martin, I must say I have never seen a bigger backlash against a hero then when comedians chimed in on “Born Standing Up.” You know what folks hated at least in my experience talking about the book? The fact he doesn’t talk about his act as being ironic. And (key here) folks hate the fact he talks about his relationship with his dad and how *SPOILER* when he repaired his relationship with his dad his attitude towards entertainment changed.

Well, whatever.

Fairly amazing to me that someone who is so genuinely into art, into being a writer and expanding his world is treated like a “Chitlin' Circuit” act that failed to perform.

I think Steve Martin should have some juggler or “guy who makes balloons” in the wings for all appearances from now on. Don’t like him? Check this other guy out!

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