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Martin and Short a dynamic duo

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BANGOR – It isn’t every day that one is granted the opportunity to watch someone with a true mastery of a particular craft execute that craft in front of you. Witnessing greatness unfold in person is a rare and precious gift … a gift granted to the audience at the Cross Insurance Center on Saturday night.

Steve Martin and Martin Short are comedy legends, icons who have been delivering big laughs to audiences for over 40 years. And they took to the CIC stage to deliver a top-notch performance to the thousands of people who eagerly embraced the chance to share in those laughs.

For close to two hours, the crowd was regaled with banter, songs, jokes and conversation – a variety show that offered up Vaudevillian echoes while also feeling very current. Martin and Short struck a delicate balance, celebrating their lifelong love of show business while also gently satirizing and subverting the very structures that bore their affection.

The opening salvo was a brisk back-and-forth in which the two longtime friends jabbed at one another, each gently roasting the other. But the barbs were delivered lovingly, with the sort of easy mockery that springs from lengthy friendships.

The two then sat in a pair of easy chairs set up on stage and basically had a conversation, discussing their lives and their careers. It was just such a conversation that served as the genesis of this tour; Martin and Short had engaged in a similar conversation at a Chicago comedy festival back in 2011. The success of that show led to an eventual blending of their own individual touring shows, which in turn led to them sharing the CIC stage in Bangor.

From there, things started getting a bit more free-range. Short and pianist Jeff Babko did a fun song-and-dance bit where Short sang a showtune purportedly pulled from an off-Broadway musical about the stepbrother of Jesus; the song was great, but it would have been worth it for the costume change alone.

Martin took to the stage with his beloved banjo, playing a couple of tunes with the exceptional Americana group Steep Canyon Rangers, followed by a couple of impressively energetic turns from the band sans Martin.

Martin and Short did a great duo bit where Martin played the ventriloquist to Short’s ventriloquist’s dummy (that also happened to be iconic Short character Jiminy Glick); they also did a fantastic number where they riffed on the Sondheim classic “Send in the Clowns.”

(There was a bit about the two of them needing a place to stay and listing their conditions for being a guest in your home. It was hilarious but be warned: you might want to keep an eye on your cat.)

But really, it was less about what they were doing than how they were doing it. There’s something truly remarkable about watching show biz pros in their element. Each brought out the best in the other; none of what happened on that stage felt false or forced. There was palpable joy generated by what we witnessed on that stage.

Yes, these guys have been giants of stage and screen for decades now. They have succeeded in just about every manner one can succeed in the entertainment realm. And that’s because, first and foremost, they are entertainers. Consummate entertainers. They are there for one reason and one reason only – to make you laugh. And make no mistake – they are VERY good at it.

Watching people do the thing that they were born to do, the thing that they do as well as anybody on the planet, well … that’s special. It’s special no matter what the thing is, honestly, but when that thing is simply to entertain, you better buckle in, because you’re in for a treat.

Truly, a night to remember.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2019 05:22

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