Steve Martin : biography
In the mid-1970s, Martin made frequent appearances as a stand-up comedian on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson., and on The Gong Show, HBO’s On Location, The Muppet Show, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL). SNL audience jumped by a million viewers when he made guest appearances, though despite a common misconception, he was never a cast member. Martin has guest-hosted Saturday Night Live 15 times, bested only in number of presentations by host Alec Baldwin (who has hosted 16 times ). On the show, Martin popularized the air quotes gesture, which uses four fingers to make double quote marks in the air. While on the show Martin became close with several of the cast members, including Gilda Radner. On the day Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, a visibly shaken Martin hosted SNL and featured footage of himself and Radner together in a 1978 sketch.
In the 1970s, his TV appearances led to the release of comedy albums that went platinum. The track "Excuse Me" on his first album, Let’s Get Small, helped establish a national catch phrase. His next album, A Wild and Crazy Guy (1978), was an even bigger success, reaching the No. 2 spot on the U.S. sales chart, selling over a million copies. "Just a wild and crazy guy" became another of Martin’s known catch phrases. The album featured a character based on a series of Saturday Night Live sketches where Martin and Dan Aykroyd played "Georgi" and "Yortuk" the Festrunk Brothers, a couple of bumbling Czechoslovak would-be playboys. The album ends with the song "King Tut", sung and written by Martin and backed by the "Toot Uncommons", members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was later released as a single, reaching No. 17 on the U.S. charts in 1978 and selling over a million copies.. Retrieved August 14, 2010.. Retrieved August 14, 2010. The song came out during the King Tut craze that accompanied the popular traveling exhibit of the Egyptian king’s tomb artifacts. Both albums won Grammys for Best Comedy Recording in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Martin performed "King Tut" on the April 22, 1978, edition of SNL.
Decades later, in 2012, the A.V. Club described Martin’s unique style and its impact on audiences:
On his comedy albums, Martin’s stand-up is self-referential and sometimes self-mocking. It mixes philosophical riffs with sudden spurts of "happy feet", banjo playing with balloon depictions of concepts like venereal disease, and the controversial kitten juggling (he is a master juggler). His style is off-kilter and ironic, and sometimes pokes fun at stand-up comedy traditions, such as Martin opening his act (from A Wild and Crazy Guy) by saying, "I think there’s nothing better for a person to come up and do the same thing over and over for two weeks. This is what I enjoy, so I’m going to do the same thing over and over and over […] I’m going to do the same joke over and over in the same show, it’ll be like a new thing." Or: "Hello, I’m Steve Martin, and I’ll be out here in a minute.". Retrieved August 12, 2010 In one comedy routine, used on the
Comedy Is Not Pretty! album, Martin claimed that his real name was "Gern Blanston". The riff took on a life of its own. There is a Gern Blanston website, and for a time a rock band took the moniker as their name.Martin (2007) p176–77 He stopped stand-up in 1981 to concentrate on movies and never went back.