An Evening to Forge
By the grace of a kind and generous friend, my husband and I were at the Steve Martin and Martin Short show last night.
It was one of those surprise gifts that fall into your lap on the afternoon of the event. Until then I hadn’t given any thought to the show, aside from when Willy played his interview with them on the radio. I was driving when he played it and I don’t remember where I was because I was laughing so hard. At that point, a brief lament of not having won tickets flittered through my consciousness, but was soon evaporated and forgotten.
When I was offered the tickets, I was incredulous! Whaaaaaat?!?! I daren’t get too excited until they were in my hands, which didn’t take long at all (they were emailed to me!) Either my printer is funny or the tickets were purposely made to display this way, but instead of “an evening to forget,” they read “an evening to forge”, and this seemed oddly appropriate.
When I told my husband we were going to the show, he got all serious (he doesn’t DO serious!), looked up at the ceiling and said “Wow.” That’s it, just “wow.” He shook his head and opened his eyes wide in disbelief. My husband is not one to hide his feelings about anything, so a quiet awe says ALOT!!
Despite the fireworks frenzy downtown, we had no trouble finding parking near Queen E theater. At $2 per hour for parking – a steal for a prime spot downtown – we paid only $7 for parking. A beer (me) and a cider (him) added $17 to the night’s expenses (we kept the $3 change from the $20 because they don’t accept tips at QE theater!)
Outside the theater in the courtyard, a large, blow-up frame with a white screen was set up. It looked like a rectangular trampoline tipped onto its side. Nothing was showing, it was just there, staring at all of us standing on the main level patio with our drinks. People were dressed from very casual (sandals, shorts and Hawaiian shirts) to dressy casual (slacks and a tee) to fancy (button-up shirts and nice dresses.) The majority of patrons were in our age group, 40 – 60 or so.
I don’t want to tell you about the show in case you are going to it tonight. Let me just say this: pee before you go to your seat. It had us tittering and guffawing in turn, and our faces hurt from laughing when we left the theater. They showed some clips of their famous characters, there was singing, and there was dancing (a la Ed Grimley and The Jerk). Skit after skit, they had us in stitches.
The Steep Canyon Rangers were fantastic and had us clapping and bopping in our seats to frenetic banjo music and beautiful harmonies. Fiddler and writer Nicky Sanders has let his stringy locks grow out and bounced around on the stage in his suit and runners looking like a young Paul Williams in the 70’s. Jeff Barko added a subtle yet important flavour to the show with his comedic timing and understated acting.
Ultimately, though, it was a stage show in all that entails: it was a “staged” show. All laughter and guffaws came from well-timed shtick which had been carefully crafted and performed for an adoring audience. Every joke, every nuance, every shared chuckle was fake. Sure, they threw in “Vancouver” here and there – and thank you for remembering which city you’re in – but tomorrow night they will insert the next town’s name. And, like us, everyone in the theater will applaud and whistle in appreciation for Steve and Martin’s acknowledgement of their town.
The best moments of the night were the real ones, where something unexpected and unscripted happened. Like when they were doing the bit about calling the sound girl a “woman”, not a “girl”. At this point, a little girl is supposed to walk out and hand Martin a new mike. But this night, the little girl (maybe 7 years old) got stage fright and the skit was brushed aside. This glitch threw them off course and Steve stuttered his next lines, causing him to mispronounce a word in his sentence which made it funnier than its intended meaning. The two shared a brief moment of surprised laughter and we all caught of glimpse of their true friendship. It was akin to Harvey Korman getting the giggles on the Carol Burnett Show – special.
We were so close to the stage, I’m certain I left with a particle of Martin’s lung and an atom of Steve’s sweat, aspirated and inhaled by those nearest the stage. Maybe some of their magic will be imbedded and grow? We all certainly carry them close in our hearts, and I hope the standing ovation at the end showed them just how much we cherish them.
When we left the theater, the blow-up screen was playing “Three Amigos.” They know just how to leave their audience smiling…
The show is called “An evening you will forget for the rest of your life” and is subtitled “See them before they’re dead.”
Like they recommend, see them before they’re dead. It’s an evening you won’t soon forget.