Steve Martin is synonymous with comedy. The banjo-playing, arrow through the head, King Tut-imitating comic turned actor also writes and produces, and for his enormous efforts, Steve Martin will be given a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.
The award is given to someone “whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time.”
Howard Stringer, AFI chair, announced the award yesterday, according to USA Today.
“From a wild and crazy stand-up comic to one who stands tall among the great figures in this American art form, he is a multi-layered creative force bound by neither convention nor caution. His work is defined by him alone, for he is the author – and a national treasure whose work has stuck with us like an arrow in the head.”
At 69-years-old, Steve Martin first came to notice as a writer for the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and a frequent guest star on The Tonight Show. In the 1970s, his stand-up routine was lauded for its absurdity, and Martin starting touring the country to sold out audiences.
In 1982, Steve Martin told Rolling Stone that he almost decided to be a college professor instead of a comedian, citing the philosophy classes at UCLA that changed his life.
“It changed what I believe and what I think about everything. I majored in philosophy. Something about non-sequiturs appealed to me. In philosophy, I started studying logic, and they were talking about cause and effect, and you start to realize, ‘Hey, there is no cause and effect! There is no logic! There is no anything!’ Then it gets real easy to write this stuff, because all you have to do is twist everything hard—you twist the punch line, you twist the non sequitur so hard away from the things that set it up.”
Luckily for the world, Steve Martin went into comedy instead of pursuing an academic career. His stand-up landed him gigs on the aforementioned Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Gong Show, The Muppet Show, and Saturday Night Live. Martin’s appearances on SNL boosted each episode he guest-starred on by over a million viewers.
Steve’s first significant film role was in a 1977 short film titled, The Absent-Minded Waiter, written by and starring Martin. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.
In 1979, Steve Martin co-wrote and starred in the film that would change his life: The Jerk. Costing only $4 million to make, the film grossed over $100 million. Anyone who didn’t know who Steve Martin was before the film was released, certainly knew him after.
The films kept coming after The Jerk. Steve starred in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
, The Man With Two Brains, All of Me, Three Amigos, The Little Shop of Horrors, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Roxanne, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels… and the list goes on and on.
Throughout his career, Steve Martin has written films, plays, and penned essays for The New Yorker. He is an accomplished musician and collector of fine art.
Steve Martin is certainly worthy of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from AFI. He’ll receive the award at a gala in Los Angeles on June 4th, 2015.
image via zuguide