Let’s start out with the specifics here, because once the comedic duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short began talking, we really weren’t in control anymore. These two funnymen, actors, authors, and musicians are touring with a show called “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.” The show will feature musical accompaniment and interludes by the award-winning bluegrass group the Steep Canyon Rangers, with whom Steve Martin (a renowned bluegrass lover and banjo player) has just released a long-awaited second collaborative album called, fittingly enough, “The Long Awaited Album,” along with pianist Jeff Babko.
Martin and Short will perform songs, tell stories, talk about their decades-long careers, and do a lot of improvising at the Peace Center in Greenville on Feb. 23 and 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Friday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m. and are priced at $100, $125, $150, and $250.
The show is actually the second of its kind that the two men have done; the previous version was called “A Very Stupid Conversation With Steve Martin and Martin Short.” And that is where our conversation began, and right about where it went off the rails.
GJ: How is this show different from the first tour you did together?
Short: “It’s constantly changing. Every night we walk offstage, and either Steve or I will say, ‘Hey, you know what would be great, is if we did it this way or that way or changed this.’ It’s a constantly morphing show. So if you saw this a year ago, there are many elements of this that are different.”
Martin: “The show is at least 70 percent different, and the one thing we’re thinking of is that if we get rid of Marty, that would change the show entirely.”
Short: “And I was going to say that since the last tour, thankfully, Steve’s prescriptions have all been altered and upped.”
GJ: Steve, how much of the new album do you play with the Steep Canyon Rangers in this show?
Martin: “We actually barely do anything from our record [laughs]. But they do play more music in this show, because we have costume changes and stuff.”
GJ: This is the second time you’ve toured together, so what do you enjoy most about working together onstage?
Short: “The reality is that the reason we enjoy doing it is the chemistry that happens very naturally between Steve and myself. That leads to improvised lines and improvised moments. The ultimate goal is to be as loose as possible and looseness creates improv.”
GJ: You both have solo segments in the show; how much time do you spend onstage together?
Martin: “I can tell you almost exactly. We’re onstage together about 70 percent of the time, and we’re alone about 15 percent each and then the Rangers are on for 5 percent. So we have about 150 percent of a show.”
Short: “That was the worst breakdown of anything I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Steve: “No, listen! When you’ve consumed 100 percent, you have to keep going, and there’s nothing to do but add. I give 110 percent and Marty gives 90 percent, and it’s absolutely perfect.”
GJ: And you each talk about the movies you’ve done?
Martin: “We basically tell funny anecdotes of our lives, but that’s a small percentage of the show.”
Short: “Steve! STEVE! What percentage is it of the show?”
Martin: “It’s 28 percent. Actually, that’s not true. My part is half of that, so I’m 14 percent and Marty’s is 14 percent. Actually, I’m joking, that’s not true. I don’t really know what percentage it is.”
Short: “Yes he does. I promise you he does. That was not a joke.”
GJ: We hope we haven’t caused a rift between the two of you with this percentage argument.
Martin: “Well, we have two-and-a-half months or so before this show, so I’m pretty sure by the time we get there we won’t be speaking to each other at all.”