DVD review: 'Steve Martin: The Television Stuff'
In his early days as a stand-up comic and sketch performer, many critics disdained Martin for the silly happy-feet, arrow-through-the-head nature of his act, although eventually his droll, postmodernist style of comedy came to be appreciated not only by the avant garde but also by vast television audiences as Martin’s work gained wider and wider exposure.
Now, Shout! Factory has assembled much of that work in “Steve Martin: The Television Stuff,” a three-disc boxed set that includes more than six hours of Martin’s stand-up routines, TV specials and guest appearances from the 1970s and beyond.
Six TV comedy specials make up the core of the collection. They include “On Location With Steve Martin (1976), “Steve Martin: A Wild and Crazy Guy” (1978), “Steve Martin: Comedy is Not Pretty” (1980), “All Commercials: A Steve Martin Special” (1980), “Steve Martin’s Best Show Ever” (1981) and “Homage to Steve” (1984).
Additional material is gathered from his many appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With David Letterman,” from awards dinners and other odd sources.
What’s quickly apparent here is Martin’s remarkable comic reach, which ranges from the stand-up silliness of his early acts (where he plays the banjo with his nose or breaks into spontaneous bouts of “happy feet”) to the more intellectually ambitious stuff of his Oscar-nominated short “The Absent-Minded Waiter.” Some of his best bits involve an adroit melding of his gifts for broad absurdist comedy and concise verbal wit (“Let’s face it,” he says in one stand-up bit, “some people have a way with words, and some people, uh … not have way, I guess”).
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