Los Dos Amigos: Steve Martin and Martin Short Bring Their Variety Show to Ovens Auditorium
Just your average night with two wild and crazy guys!
Steve Martin and Martin Short met 30 years ago on the set of “The Three Amigos,” one of Saturday Night Live’s most infamously loved gigs. Three decades later, they have embarked on their self proclaimed ”If We Had Saved, We Wouldn’t Be Here” Tour. We had a chance to catch them early in the tour after having kicked off in Texas and making their way back to the Carolinas. A few nights in Durham, a stop in Charlotte, then off to Richmond before taking a few weeks off, they treated the crowd to their variety show at Ovens Auditorium. They will be playing a 4 or 5 nights a month before they wrap up in October.
They kicked the evening off with clips that spanned the history of the two comedian’s careers. From “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” to “The Three Amigos,” the last 35 years were brought together in the video compilation. As much as everyone enjoyed the old clips, everyone was really excited for the men to actually come on stage and get the show started. Steve came out and let us know that he was “happy to be in Charlotte, because Cornelius is a little too fast paced for me.”
Short joined Martin on stage and the two men began working off each other giving us insight on what a “hollywood complement” is. The two started taking jabs at one another. Even though rehearsed, the two still were able to improvise enough to keep it fresh where it seemed natural. They were actually cracking one another up, and that was hilarious. Steve had to tell Martin to stop looking at him at one point, because he was making him laugh too hard. They put some old photos of the two from their youth to young adulthood, and as you can imagine, the “hollywood complements” were easy to generate from the embarrassing old photos.
Martin and Short headed out into the crowd to find some unsuspecting volunteers. Who has the courage to step on the stage with two comedians who have been practicing their complements? This is where their improv skills really came to life as they talked about the volunteers jobs and their attire. Little did they know they were volunteering to learn the Three Amigo Salute. Needless to say, with the many hand motions and hip thrusts, and the lack of rhythm, this was a fun segment. “Poetry in motion,” Steve said as he helped one of the men, Fred Thompson, off the stage.
The two men moved to the big comfy white chairs at center stage. This was a nice segment between the two. I know it was rehearsed, but it was like watching them sitting in their living room with 2,500 of their closest friends. I can imagine this is really how the two are when the lights aren’t up. We got to hear a little of Short’s singing voice and some impressions of Kathryn Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and his hero Frank Sinatra, who he first met at a party standing by a bar. Short also shared a story of a wardrobe malfunction he had during a make-up session on a film. If you want to know how that turned out, you will have to go see the show. They let us into how they came up with ideas on some of their pieces.
As Marty moved stage left, he said “I need to make this quick because my Uber driver is waiting, and you know how testy Bill O’Reilly can get.” Climbing on top of the piano where Jeff Babko was tickling the ivories, Martin led us into a segment about one of his performances of an all nude, tribal rock musical, that he was fortunate enough to get the part. A song, a dance, and a surprise costume change mid song brought the house down.
Steve grabbed his banjo and introduced our home state boys and my friends, The Steep Canyon Rangers. Martin started it off, picking and then the boys jumped in. Mike Guggino showed his skills on the mandolin while the other boys laid it down strong. Steve reminded us that he had been playing the banjo for years but hadn’t actually been playing live on stage for that long. They played one of their new ones, a murder ballad, “Pretty Little One.” I had heard this song many times, but apparently never really listened closely to the lyrics. The bouncy melody made me think it was a song of happy love. I went back and looked up the lyrics.
“Pretty Little One” is the tale of a relationship gone bad and a controlling man who had bad intentions for his love. Unfortunately for him, she was smarter than he was and took care of him before he could harm her. Steve then took a seat and The Rangers surrounded him as he worked through a few songs on his 5 string. Nicky Sanders’ fiddle slid into the song with him, and the hands started clapping. CH3’s bass was booming down low, Mike Ashworth’s cajon keeping the beat, Woody Platt strumming the melody, Mike Guggino fast picking his mandolin, and Graham Sharp running right alongside Steve on banjo. Everyone was up and clapping. I was sitting in the back watching the room become electric as The Rangers played a few songs on their own. Nicky was in rare form. If there is a better fiddle player on God’s green earth, I hope to see him one day, because he would have to be an alien not of this planet. They sounded so good, I wanted to run up the aisle like it was an old time tent revival. Since I was their guest for the show, I was afraid I might embarrass them if I decided to do some sort of clog/Riverdance combo out of the back row down front. I was tempted though, it was that good. Martin himself was impressed and said, “My little babies are all grown up.”
As we moved to the end of the show, Jiminy Glick and Martin, as ventriloquist gave some “style complements” to some of the people in the news. They didn’t hold back on anyone, Kim Kardashian, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Kim Jong Un got roasted worse than if they walked the red carpet in front of Joan Rivers. No one was safe from critique.
The two had a toast delivered to them by one of Charlotte’s favorite news personalities and amazing member of our community, Molly Grantham of WBTV news. Molly looked fabulously, stunning in her orange dress. Just one man’s personal fashion critique. They closed with a song that Steve “wrote that morning” about their friendship of 35 years. It of course was another opportunity for the two to give a few last jabs at each other.
A fun night was had by all as the Rangers played the show out and people made their way to the exits. A few people stayed around outside the Auditorium, yours truly being one. After some time, and by some time, and hour or so, Steve and Marty came out of the building. Fedora clad, with a blue blazer Steve came around the corner with Marty on his right hip. They made their way up the hill to the barriers where about 30 people were still waiting. Martin cut left and Short zigzagged right and came by to say hi to everyone who was still there. Taking some photos and signing some autographs, the two made their best efforts to speak to everyone. As Steve made his way back to his black Suburban, Marty was still socializing making sure he didn’t miss one person. In true Steve Martin fashion he said, “Martinnnnn, we got to gooo!” Off, Los dos amigos, went into the night.