At the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Sunday, September 27
At the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, September 27
Watching two comedic masters sit and answer questions in a large theatre doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. But both Steve Martin and David Cross proved that they can get laughs in any situation.
On the last day of the Global Comedy Fest, both artists took part in a moderated discussion, Martin at the Orpheum and Cross earlier in the day at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.
While Martin’s tickets went for upwards of $100, Cross expressed shock that anyone had to pay anything to see him read from his new book, I Drink for a Reason, and answer questions. So to make it up to the crowd, everyone in attendance was offered a free copy of the tome. No such giveaways by the multimillionaire Martin.
But both gentlemen were willing and warm interview subjects, and we learned, for example, that Martin, as a standup comic, eliminated punchlines from his act to democratize the process, giving people the freedom to laugh where they felt like it, and he first felt truly respected with the success of the B.C.–shot Roxanne. And that Cross chose to go the humorous-essay route because he doesn’t have the kind of ego to do a memoir at the tender age of 45, and he won’t miss George W. Bush (for selfish comedic reasons), so long as there’s a Christian America to give him an endless supply of material.
The two events were a contrast in styles, too. Martin’s moderator was an interested and serious, but slightly nervous, it seemed, George Stroumboulopoulos, who has had years of experience interviewing celebrities. While the two didn’t have an obvious rapport, Martin is professional enough to turn any question into an entertaining and/or informative answer. Cross was met with his former writer on Mr. Show, Scott Aukerman, who was beautifully understated but hilarious in his own right, knowing exactly when to slip in a little dig (he prefaced one question with “I have not read the book. Nor do I intend to”¦”), but still allowing Cross to be the star. Their long relationship made for a more entertaining 90 minutes.
Aukerman also chose to limit the questions from the audience, which is always a wise move. Granted, much of the time was taken by Cross reading two of his essays (both really funny), but only 10 queries came from the crowd, including the insightful meta-query, “Why do the Q & A? It’s always really terrible.” A staggering 23 (often insane) questions, though, flew at Martin from his audience, including the frightening “Would you like to die on-stage?”
Democracy may be a decent political system, and it might very well work for absurdist comedy routines, too, but it sucks at these types of shows.