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Steve Martin: the Televison Stuff, a Tribute to a Comedy Star

The consummate funnyman, Steve Martin has been entertaining audiences most of his life.  Most of us know him from films like The Jerk, Father of the Bride, Bringing Down the House and The Pink Panther where his signature comedy has made him an icon in the business.  Now in a special DVD set you can finally see his amazing rise to fame through Television with the release of Steve Martin: The Television Stuff.

Though the medium of television and video shot of Martin during his early years in the business we are treated to the inner sanctum of the archives that have held his appearances.  Digging deep the producers have even come up with video shot of his stand-up comedy during engagements at clubs and other venues.  Piecing together choice performances, acceptance speeches and interviews on such shows as The Tonight Show, Sofa Entertainment and Shout Factory have come up with a great nostalgic package that should give fans and comedy lovers a chance to relive or see the amazing comic do live shows for the first time.

The DVD has been released in a box set of three discs and starts in the 1970’s moves on to the 1980’s and then offers segments that will take you nearly up to date showing awards he has received and guest appearances.  Nicely packaged, each of the discs has its own cover that slides snugly into a box that will fit alongside other home videos you may have in your collection.

The first disc covering 153 minutes is an introductory one that starts out showing Martin doing stand-up at the Troubadour in Los Angeles where plays banjo and gets the audience involved in his act.  His totally off-the-wall monologues are fun to watch and very unlike his movie persona.  It’s the other side of Martin, one you will slowly grow to love.  Dead pan and serious, you sometimes wonder if he’s kidding or not. Other appearances on this disk are his Wild and Crazy Guy routines he performaned at the Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles in 1978 where he does sketches about riding on a turtle, and a takeoff on Johnny Cash.  The third event performed in 1980 is called Comedy Is Not Pretty and features Steve doing some extremely funny bits of famous songsters with guest appearances by Marty Allen, Joyce DeWitt, Phil Foster and Peter Graves among other comedians during that era.

Steve Martin during one of his funny skits

The second disc runs 170 minutes and takes place between 1980-1984 with a comedy package that continues showing his rise to television greatness with satires on TV commercials of the 1970’s. Parodying some of the most popular products to some of the obscure, after Martin handles the material it’s a wonder companies like Palmolive ever sold anything.  Steve Martin’s Best Show Ever shown on NBC in 1981 depicts some of the funniest skits including Did Dinosaurs build Stone Hinge? and The Elephant Guy.  In this segment Martin really starts to take off as a leader in comedy among rising stars, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray.  Closing out this disc is a Homage To Steve released in 1984 with his ‘complete’ appearance of the 1979 show at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Also included here is Steve Martin’s Academy Award Nominated short called The Absent-Minded Waiter.

The final disc covers his many, many comedy quips from 1966 to 2005 showing his dry wit while accepting awards, introducing famous people, giving tribute and his music videos.  Included are some of his appearances on Saturday Night Live including one of his most surprising for the times called “Penis Beauty Cream”.

This final disc of 72 minutes covers a lot of events and certainly some of the most memorable comedy ever.

  • Steve Plays the Banjo in his 1st Television appearance -  Dusty’s Attic (1966)
  • Music Video: “What I Believe”  from The Steve Martin Brothers Album (1981)
  • Music Video: “Freddie’s Lilt”  from The Steve Martin Brothers Album (1981)
  • Las Vegas Act Parody  The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (9/19/74)
  • Jean-Pierre Louey: The French Johnny Cash The Johnny Cash Christmas Special (1978)
  • Steve Martin’s Holiday Wishes Saturday Night Live (12/6/86)
  • Ode to a Loved One  Saturday Night Live (5/20/89)
  • Steve’s Penis Beauty Créme  Saturday Night Live (9/24/94)
  • Steve’s Tribute to Gene Kelly  AFI Lifetime Achievement: A Tribute To Gene Kelly (1985)
  • Best Actor In A Comedy Acceptance Speech  The People’s Choice Awards (1992)
  • The Great Flydini  The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (5/6/92)
  • Steve’s Paul Simon Tribute  The Kennedy Center Honors (2002)
  • The Making of The Steve Martin Appearance  The Late Show With David Letterman (12/1/95)
  • Steve’s Acceptance Speech  The Mark Twain Prize For American Humor (2005)

The Video Quality’s as best as can be bearing in mind it’s extracted from old television video tape.   But, I must add considering all that, the remaster of this DVD is very well done.  As it moves from year to year we can see the quality change giving it more of a nostalgic feel.

The Sound Quality works nicely and the dialogue comes across crisp and clear. If your system has Dolby Digital, than you should have a very good presentation of all of Steve Martin’s material.

Included in the box set bonuses are a new interview with Martin and a 24-page booklet with an essay by author Adam Gopnik, liner notes and rare photographs. The booklet also serves a guide to the three discs in the box set.

The other special bonus feature here is the comments by Steve Martin that you can turn on to get his take on the shows.  Turn them on after you have seen the video and then watch those bits that have commentary for another good laugh.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A fun filled DVD for fans and comedy lovers.

Specifications and additional film information:

  • Cast: Steve Martin
  • Guest Appearances: Paul Simon, Bill Murray, Gregory Hines, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Marty Allen, Carl Reiner, Johnny Cash
  • MPAA Rating: Unrated (Contains Adult Language)
  • Genre: Comedy, Collection
  • Running Time: 390 min
  • Street Date: September 18, 2012
  • Language: English
  • Format: DVD, Box Set
  • Audio: Dolby Digital
  • Video: Color and B&W
  • Number of Discs: 3 Disc set
  • Distributed by: Sofa Entertainment and Shout Factory

 

About John Delia

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John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for 8 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the South Eastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1.

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