Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Steve Martin Interview Ruined By "Philistine" Audience

Apparently, Steve Martin's conversation with the New York Times' Deborah Solomon at the 92nd St Y in NYC earlier this week didn't go so well. It went so poorly, in fact, that the Y offered full refunds ($50 each!) to the entire audience.

Why? Because they talked about the art world the entire time instead of, you know, Steve Martin's career. But it's OK, because Solomon seems to really get it:

“Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York, at the 92nd Street Y, would be interested in hearing about art and artists,” Ms. Solomon added in an e-mail. “I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it’s like to host the Oscars or appear in ‘It’s Complicated’ with Alec Baldwin. I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art.”

Yes, you philistines! Why, you should be happy to hear a comedian talk about the value of new painters' works! I don't care that you're a fan of his movies! Don't you know that movies are well below us New York intellectuals? By the way, just a reminder that tickets are going fast for my upcoming talk with Jon Lovitz about the use of folk music in Shostakovich's The Nose!

The whole thing does sound pretty awkward:

Midway through the conversation, a Y representative handed Ms. Solomon a note asking her to talk more about Mr. Martin’s career and, implicitly, less about the art world, the subject of his latest novel, “An Object of Beauty.”

The audience cheered when Ms. Solomon read aloud the note. Still, Ms. Solomon said she had thought until that moment that things were going swimmingly. She said she was “appalled” to have their conversation publicly criticized by the Y and found deserving of a refund.

The real irony of her idiotic reaction to pretty much everyone hating her interview is that to assume people want to hear what Steve Martin thinks about art just because he's famous is pretty much "reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity." You're part of the problem, Deb!

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  • http://www.twitter.com/ThatNitin Nitin

    This doesn't seem that absurd to me. The event note ( http://www.92y.org/shop/event_detail.asp?productid=T-LC5AE11 ) seems focused on Steve Martin the writer, especially since he is there to promote his new book, which is about art. Even the bio for Deborah Solomon focuses on her art critic bona fides.

    Anyone who is a fan of Steve Martin knows that he isn't a "wild and crazy guy" and doesn't like talking about his stand up/film career and would rather talk about art and writing. He feels, probably rightfully, that the comedic side of his persona is well known and old material, and doesn't feel the need to go over it again. He even wrote a book about it, Born Standing Up, to be the comprehensive last word on the subject.

    I don't think it's so weird for him to go to a cultural event at the 92nd Street Y and not expect an Inside the Actor's Studio type of interview. He has written a book about art, and that's probably what he wants to talk about. Does everything need to be funny for it to be interesting?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jon-Bershad/8829871 Jon Bershad

    Yeah, I don't know. I'm gonna have to wholeheartedly disagree with you on this one, Adam.

    I went to see David Byrne talk about architectural design even though I don't give a shit about architecture, I'm just a fan of the man and wanted to hear him talk. I didn't expect a Talking Heads concert and was fine when that wasn't what I got. The idea that the coordinators would interrupt the interview with a note telling her to change the subject is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, she's an art critic for God's sake! And he, despite the great Born Standing Up and his Twitter, has seemed much more passionate about his art collection than his comedy these days. Not to mention the fact that that's what the book he's there to promote is all about! I mean, what did these people think they were going to talk about? The Jerk outtakes?

    Besides, he could have talked about anything. Hearing a brilliant and beloved entertainer talk about anything should be more than enough for a measly $12.

  • http://www.twitter.com/becca_oneal Rebecca O'Neal

    I'm sure I could listen to Steve Martin talk at length about nearly anything, but I wasn't there, so….. And his new novel, An Object of Beauty, is definitely about the art world.

    It sounds good if only because it's about a Sotheby's intern and I interned at an auction house a few years ago.

    I think people just saw the name "Steve Martin" and didn't realize what the agenda was. Conceivable, but I can't imagine demanding my money back after a Steve Martin interview.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eliot-Glazer/800482 Eliot Glazer
  • http://www.quincytraffic.com Jamie Ware Billett

    Wait, was Adam aware that he was there promoting his book, which was about… art? And that he's this huge collector of…art. Oh, and that in addition to being a comedian, actor, director, writer he's an … artist? With a gallery and everything!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Zamost/1352512247 Ian Zamost

    Did they want him to wear a dress and do a dance too? Honestly, Steve Martin's career hasn't been very full of excitement lately. I would be very interested to hear what Steve thinks of the current status of the art world.

    People these days are so damned spoiled, they expect actors to constantly be in character. If they're not putting on a show they must be doing something wrong. It was an interview, not a play.