The Steve Martin Documentary Trailer Implies That He Was the Only Non-Political Comedian of the 1960s

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The Steve Martin Documentary Trailer Implies That He Was the Only Non-Political Comedian of the 1960s

In the upcoming Apple TV+ documentary about his life and career, Steve Martin argues that his early act was successful partially because it was apolitical, as if his famous arrow-through-the-head gag wasn’t a blatant indictment of the all-powerful Archery Lobby.

STEVE! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces will premiere on Apple’s streaming service on March 29th, and, in it, Academy Award-winning documentarian Morgan Neville hopes to capture both the professional and personal journey of the iconic comedian, playwright and banjoist. Martin won his first Emmy-award at just 23 years old for his writing work on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and the film will study how decades of sustained success starting at such a young age affected both the artist and the man behind so many of the most iconic comedy moments of the 20th century. 

Early this morning, Apple released the first official trailer for STEVE! in which the multi-hyphenate humorist’s career is contextualized by an all-star lineup that includes Jerry SeinfeldTina FeyMartin Short (of course) and Martin himself, who says of his rise to stardom at the end of the 1960s, “All comedy was political, and I felt that it was time to change that.” And here we thought that George Carlin was just a big boxing fan.

Funny enough, the show that jump-started Martins career wasnt exactly known for being uncontroversial — Tom and Dick Smothers used their variety show to share their opinions on the Vietnam War, institutional racism and the hypocrisy of the politicians who made world-shaking decisions in the 1960s. In fact, the refusal by Martin and the rest of the writing staff on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to kowtow to the demands of their politically powerful targets led to the shows early demise after just three influential seasons on air.

However, following the cancellation of The Smothers Brothers in 1969, Martins ensuing artistic arc veered away from national and international issues, focusing on the minutiae of his medium. Martin both deconstructed and reinvented stand-up comedy, trolling his audience with tropes and subversions, famously remarking to Playboy, “It’s not that the arrow through the head is funny, it’s that someone thinks the arrow through the head is funny.” His specific brand of absurdist comedy made him one of the most popular figures in all of entertainment throughout the 1970s with nary a mention of Vietnam in any of his platinum comedy records.

“The comedy I did was so linked to the era we were coming out of,” Martin explained during his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee episode, “and part of my goal was to be absurd in a very serious time.” 

Now I wonder what kind of wackiness Martin would unleash if he got his start in today's political climate — two arrows through the head?

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