Steve Martin Was A Total Crank During His ‘Playboy’ Interview

Martin didn’t want to discuss the past. Or the future, for that matter
Steve Martin Was A Total Crank During His ‘Playboy’ Interview

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“I almost destroyed myself,” says Steve Martin about his decision to quit stand-up comedy in 1981. Ironically, it was crushing success in the form of screaming stadium crowds that suffocated Martin’s desire to perform live, according to his memoir, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life. “In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back.”

Martin rarely gave interviews in those heady performing days, and in his conversation with Playboy in 1980, it’s easy to see a comic fed up with just about everything. In his white tuxedo with an arrow through his head and a banjo strapped around his neck, you might remember Martin’s stupid-silly grin, but he was anything but happy as he prepared to hang up his cruel comedy shoes. Check out these cranky responses to otherwise innocent questions about comedy and life:

On Whether He’d Answer in “Wild and Crazy Guy” Mode: “It’s hard for me to be funny for 14 days or however long we’re going to do this. I can’t disguise my true self that long. But I’ll be funny when there’s a question I don’t want to answer.”

On His Early Days: “Nobody gives a shit about where I grew up and all that. That’s boring. Even I don’t give a shit. When I read an interview and it gets to the part where the person grew up, I turn the page. The only thing of interest to me is the future.”

Okay Then, On His Future: “I have no idea. I don’t even know what my plans are. So I can’t talk about it.”

On Sex: “I’m reluctant to talk about sex or my girlfriends or ex-girlfriends, because that’s really your private life and you’re affecting people who never thought they would be affected.” (He did admit to — or lied about — never sleeping with former girlfriend Linda Ronstadt.)

On Politics: “I’m not political, because I don’t know what’s going on. Get someone who knows politics to talk about it.”

On Family: “I don’t want any kids. It’s a lifetime job. People have kids and go off and do something else. Or they’re too stupid to raise them. Every time you think that you might want to have kids, go to a restaurant and sit next to one. You just don’t want one.”

On Vices: “Get a massage. It’s the one thing that feels good that doesn’t lead to trouble. If you smoke, you get cancer. If you eat desserts, you get fat. If you fuck, she gets pregnant or you get involved. A massage — you pay for it and it feels great. It’s the one thing that doesn’t have a bad consequence unless it loosens a clot that goes to your heart.”

On His Grammy Awards: “The Grammys are the stupidest comedy award ever.”

On His Best-Seller, Cruel Shoes: “That’s all a fluke. That’s a matter of timing. You know, it’s beat out two diet books.”

Pretty much the only thing missing from Martin’s Playboy interview is the comic kicking his interviewer Lawrence Grobel in the shins. No wonder he was in the process of making a movie called The Jerk.


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