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  • jhclues17 November 2002
    He juggles, he plays the banjo, he writes his own material, and just by using the right combination of body language and facial expressions he can merely walk onto a stage and the audience will explode into gales of laughter. His name is Steve Martin, and the way he blends his unique observations of the human condition with physical comedy, he just may be the funniest man on the planet. Unfortunately, since his segue into a successful acting career in motion pictures, he doesn't do stand-up anymore, so thanks be to the comedy gods who provided us with this compilation, `The Best of Saturday Night Live, Hosted by Steve Martin,' which features the best of the best and the funniest of the funniest moments that ever visited your living room via the magic portal of the television set.

    For those who were around when these shows were first broadcast, this will be a trip down memory lane that you'll want to take again and again, because this is the kind of stuff you can watch over and over and it somehow just keeps getting funnier. For the younger crowd who only know the current incarnation of Saturday Night Live, this will be a real eye-opener, because the `comedy' we're subjected to today simply doesn't hold a candle to that proffered by the Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Players of the early, `golden' years of SNL, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Bill Murray, Garret Morris and Gilda Radner. And when Martin joined this bunch as host, well...it just didn't get any better than that.

    Does this mean that everything the current crop of comics foists upon an unsuspecting audience is without merit and that everything the SNL gang did in '78 and '79 was a masterpiece of comedy to be enshrined in stone? Of course not; the nature of comedy being what it is, and given the fact that the early SNL players were on the cutting edge of things that had never been done on TV before, it follows that some of the bits were not only going to fail, but go down in flames. There were even entire shows back then that weren't funny at all. But stacked against most of what comes down the pike today, there just isn't any comparison. Times change, attitudes change, people change; and with that, comedy must necessarily change. But that doesn't mean necessarily for the better.

    Consider some of the bits from this collection, crafted and delivered by Martin (with a little help from his friends): You get a sampling of Steve's opening monologues, which don't even have to be ABOUT anything to be funny (a precursor to `Seinfeld,' perhaps?); then there's the hilarious Festrunk Brothers (Martin and Aykroyd), those `wild and crazy guys!' who get laughs just by walking from one side of the room to the other; `Theodoric of York/Medieval Barber' has an underlying intelligence that today's players wouldn't even attempt, and wisely so, as this kind of humor would be beyond the capacity of, and lost on most of today's audience; `Dancing In the Dark' is a hysterically funny interlude featuring Martin and Radner simply dancing (ah, shades of Fred and Ginger); but the highlight of the show has to be Steve doing his now famous `King Tut' bit, which illustrates the ingenuity with which Martin was able to satirically tap into current events and contemporary sensibilities to capture forevermore a reflection of our society as it was at the moment.

    This collection also features some of the best moments of SNL in which Martin did not participate: The weekend update (when it was still fresh and original) with Curtin and Aykroyd, and another segment featuring Curtin, Murray and Father Guido Sarducci; a `commercial' with the inimitable Gilda Radner; and another highlight, that historical night that Jake and Elwood, `The Blues Brothers,' were introduced to the world. How fitting that it came on a night that Martin was hosting the show.

    Without question, comedy is subjective, and the basic impetus shifts from generation to generation; but whether the contemporary audience adapts to the material, or the material adapts to the audience, is open for debate. Still, the `classic' bits that were funny twenty, thirty or fifty years ago remain funny today because they were created in a way and captured an `essence' rooted in human nature that transcends time. And so it is with this collection of singularly entertaining moments offered up for perusal in `The Best of Saturday Night Live, Hosted by Steve Martin,' which says more than a little bit about who we were at a particular point in time, as well as something about who and where we are today. And it makes me want to find Steve Martin, just so I can walk up and say to him, `Steve, how did you ever get to be SO funny?'
  • Steve Martin is just downright hilarious. This SNL best of contains around 20 of Steve's "best" sketches. I liked around 90% of them, a couple I didn't, but even the ones I didn't like, Steve did a great job. One of the great things about this is it also has a lot of his comedy stand-up he did on SNL, and that stuff was so funny. This includes his happy feet dancing, King Tut song, Steve Martin's penis cream, and many more. I highly recommend you buy this to know what Saturday Night Live was when the show had some redeeming qualities. Features material from 1976 to 1994.

    my rating: 10/10. 81 mins.

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  • I would be lying if I didn't say I was rather disappointed on an overall basis here. It's not that Steve Martin's best moments aren't included here - it's just that not *all* of them are. Sure, there are the essentials like King Tut, the Wild and Crazy Guys and other such skits, but a good number of the material included is also rather dull. I know there are funnier skits out there, and I'm just puzzled as to why they would choose some of the ones they did.

    Martin was a comedic genius in his heydey, as evidenced here. He may have gone soft over the past few years like Robin Williams and "sold out," but at one time he was a thinking man's comedian - much like George Carlin (minus some of the politics and religion of Carlin's materal) - and that shines through in early sketches. Martin loved toying with perceptions (he studied philosophy in college and a lot of his standup originated from there) - and, for example, the opening involving Martin trying to suck a table through a straw, then abruptly giving up and picking up a banjo, is comedy at its finest.

    I just wish they had added some funnier, even more recent stuff to this collection.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Steve Martin, in his early days, was perhaps the funniest American comedian in the world. His sensational 70's stand-up work, much of which is unavailable now, were some of the greatest pieces in stand-up history. Happily, this collection of Martin pieces, taken from his time at "Saturday Night Live", is a fine DVD compilation of Martin at his surreal best.

    Opening with a hilarious monologue in which Martin plays the banjo, sticks an arrow through his head, jumps maniacally, and tries to suck a stool into his lungs using a straw, it soon becomes clear that you will get your money's worth.

    The video "Steve Martin-Live!", which contains rare footage from his seminal 70's shows, is sadly unreleased on DVD, but this package more than makes up for that loss by providing not only around half an hour of stand up but also truly classic Steve Martin sketches, which although seem dated compared to his stand-up monologues, still manage to pack in more than a few laughs.

    Get this DVD and see Steve Martin at his wild and crazy best!