[Abby’s Road] The (second) best medicine

“We’re having some fun
We’ve got music and laughter
And wonderful times

That’s so important in today’s world

Oh yeah.”

Truthful words, no? A few weeks ago while bumbling around my local bookstore I fell upon a 2007 memoir of someone who I haven’t thought about in quite a while. As I turned it over in my hands, a rush of everything he’s done, or should I say everything he’s done that I’ve seen or heard, much of which was filmed/recorded before I had a mind to understand his genre, came over me. His comic genius coupled with graceful aging has stuck in my chest throughout the years. A celebrity crush? Perhaps. In recent years, as he married someone thirty-some-odd years his junior (my age..hellooooooo??) I snorted in disgust and attempted to, well, un-like him. This, of course, was short-lived, only until a re-run of a film crawled into a sleepless evening and I loved him, again, despite young wifey. Oh how I adore my favorite Jerk, Steve Martin.

What more can I say? Simple really: this is just me on a Friday, trying to lure a few (at least I hope it’s only a few) unknowing readers into the dusty archives of good, smart and simple comedy. Sheer silliness. Yes, there are more than a handful of movies from the nineties – stinkers – in his catalog, if you will, but the whole of the not-so-great can be erased by the genius of one film and one film only. Let me get it out of the way now and beg you, PLEASE, if you haven’t, please watch The Jerk. Thank you.

I could gush about his screenplays or his musical ability or the hours of stand up I could only listen to on records after his peak on stage and, later, in live, watered-down versions, as he hosted SNL, his hair growing whiter than white year after year. I’d rather, however, mention Born Standing Up in which he introduces readers to his life before stardom, explaining thoughtfully how and why he behaved the way he did on stage and became a comedian. Insight into family, lovers, music, anxiety all in a palatable, stunningly personal way…as if a friend were detailing tribulations over a cup of coffee. I admire Mr. Martin for keeping a relatively healthy low-pro throughout his career when his peers with similar talents were living and (literally) dying in the fast lane of the spotlight.

I will close with nary a word about indie music this week. I will simply complete the quote I started with, in hopes that I could, someday have AMAZING, too:

“It’s so hard to laugh
It seems that short of tripping a nun
Nothing is funny anymore

But you know
I see people going to college
For fourteen years
Studying to be doctors and lawyers
And I see people going to work
At the drugstore at 7:30 every morning
To sell flair pens

But the most amazing thing to me is
I get paid
For doing
This.”

-S. Martin, 1975, on stage in San Francisco

Happy weekend.

[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]

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