‘He Had Everything, I Had Nothing’: Steve Martin Says That Martin Short Brought All the Material to Their Partnership

The dynamic duo discuss their origin story when they decided to Frankenstein their solo acts together
‘He Had Everything, I Had Nothing’: Steve Martin Says That Martin Short Brought All the Material to Their Partnership

According to Steve Martin, his friend and partner Martin Short provides all the quality material that makes their duo successful — which makes me wonder where Short left all those prime punchlines while he was filming Clifford.

On TV and national tours, Martin and Short have honed their chemistry to the point where the pair of veterans are automatically and inextricably linked — whenever one comes up in a conversation, the other springs to mind. On their hit Hulu series Only Murders in the Building, Steve Martin Short currently enjoy the highest profile praise of their decade-or-so time together as they find themselves swimming in Emmy-nominations in the midst of their third season.

During the pair’s appearance on the most recent episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, O’Brien asked Martin about their collaboration’s origin, to which Martin replied, “I’ll tell you what, it’s a boring story, so I’m going to give it to (Short).”

As Short explained, in 2011, the pair performed separately at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Chicago. The two were asked to interview each other, and they quickly realized that sharing their vast entertainment experiences in front of an audience was surprisingly compelling to the comedy fans present. Martin and Short booked another date to have a simple conversation in front of a crowd at a corporate event — and it flopped.

“We’re sitting and we’re talking about comedy, and we’re thinking, ‘This doesn’t work,’” Martin said of the failed second talk at a dentists’ convention. He and Short quickly workshopped their boring, dusty Actor’s Studio-esque act and settled on something more exciting by combining their actual performances. “Marty had a show that he did solo, and I had a show with a band, and we kind of combined them,” Martin explained. “But he had material and I had a bunch of songs with funny intros.” 

Martin added, “When we first started working together, he had everything and I kind of had nothing, because I didn’t bring the band. And that’s when it kind of started to gel into a show.” See, Steve? Big things happen when you leave the banjo at home.

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