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Comedy legend Steve Martin excited to visit Belfast for first time ahead of performance with pal Martin Short

 

Steve Martin and Martin Short
Steve Martin and Martin Short
Martin Short in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
THREE FUGITIVES: Martin Short, Sarah Rowland Doroff and Nick Nolte, 1989
Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

By Christopher Woodhouse

Comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short say they can't wait to bring their new stage show to Belfast and to pay a special visit to Co Armagh.

The duo are set to perform The Funniest Show In Time At The Moment at the SSE Arena in March. 

But while it will be Steve Martin's first time in Northern Ireland, his comedy partner has family here on his dad's side.

The Santa Clause 3 and Saturday Night Live star says he'll be visiting relatives in south Armagh, some of whom own Short's Bar.

"My father was born and raised in south Armagh, in Crossmaglen, right on the border," he explained.

"And each show will be filled with 75 Shorts." Father of the Bride and Pink Panther actor Steve Martin chips in: "I don't know if I can take it."

The pair, who have been friends for more than 30 years, will be in Belfast for their show on March 12.

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"I'm excited about going there, I've never been. It's a beautiful city," said Martin.

Asked why they decided to include Belfast, he explained: "We're headed that way and we loved the idea of playing England and we loved the idea of playing Ireland.

"I've had such great times in Ireland, I have Irish blood and I have Irish music in my blood. I was there once before in Dublin for a record I did and met some great people and went to a pub and heard some great banjo playing.

Steve Martin and Martin Short
Steve Martin and Martin Short

"I'm sure I'll love Belfast, I love everything Irish, I love the humour."

Short added: "One thing I know about the Irish is that they love to laugh."

The show, which has been a sell-out success with audiences and a hit with the critics, mixes taking the mickey out of each other, Hollywood fame and music from their own dedicated band, Steep Canyon Rangers.

Martin is also an accomplished banjo player with a Grammy Award-winning album already under his belt, and he performs various tunes throughout the show.

But don't expect the jibes at politicians or biting social satire from the pair's Saturday Night Live days which made them household names.

"We're not out to shock or offend, we like comedy that's funny on its own but I think it's perfectly fine for other people to do it," explained Steve.

Steve Martin and Martin Short in ¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Steve Martin and Martin Short in ¡Three Amigos! (1986)

"Marty and I have done it in our lifetimes but it's not my interest anymore, I really like getting laughs from what I call just pure comedy.

"Although we do have a few tiny political bits, commentary, but I don't look at myself as a commentator, I look at myself as a comedian.

"It's the comedian who determines what I can get away with because that can change, because Richard Pryor used difficult language on stage and he could do it.

"Other people tried to emulate him and they couldn't do it. It sounds awful coming out of some people's mouths.

"It's an artistic quality rather than a clean cut yes/no."

Their last tour, An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life, was filmed for broadcast on Netflix and met with rave reviews and received four Emmy Award nominations.

When it comes to what makes it into the show, it's the fans who get the casting vote. "The audience decides, we try bits out all the time, we know instantly, or within one or two performances, if something is funny," said Steve.

And there isn't much arguing between the pair over what makes a decent joke, as Steve explained: "It doesn't happen, we don't disagree." His sidekick added: "I think our sense of humours have a great similarity, it would be really unusual if something made me laugh and Steve said, 'Gee I don't get that'."

They first met while filming western spoof The Three Amigos with Chevy Chase in 1986 and have remained close friends and collaborators ever since.

While Steve is 74 and Martin will be 70 not long after the end of the tour, their schedule is full-on, with shows in Glasgow and Dublin in quick succession before Belfast and then onto London, Manchester and Birmingham.

But the Planes, Trains and Automobiles star won't have any talk of their age slowing them down. "What are you trying to say?" he jokes.

Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster and in the Republic through My Ticket.

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