As I walked into the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa last night for Steve Martin and Martin Short’s two man comedy show, I felt in the pit of my stomach what could only be described as true nervousness. Not the typical excited energy one gets before they have the privilege to watch any great performance, this one was more palpable. I was heading in to see two comedic legends, who by their own admission, are getting rather long in the tooth. Martin just turned 72 and Short isn’t far behind at 67.
With reputations setting the bar impossibly high, my mind wandered.
Could they possibly be as funny as the crowd and myself were expecting them to be, or would this be a sad case of a crowd being forced to watch a pair of fading geniuses struggle to remind people why they bothered to pay their hard-earned money for a ticket to a live trainwreck?
But all of that nervous tension melted away within the first 3 minutes of the show, as the two men took the stage with confidence and went jab for jab with each other in a rapid-fire double roast that proved that they were not only still competent, they were as sharp as anyone could have hoped for.
The pair’s onstage chemistry is all but perfect, with Short playing the part of the wacky weirdo to Martin’s dry, yet punishing straight man. You can sense the true friendship they have for each other as they fire merciless barbs at each other, with nothing being off limits — looks, age and sexual prowess are all fair game, and they go after each other like only a pair of close buddies can. The show itself is well-paced. It meanders along through a series of bits, employing the use of video screens, photos and costumes, as well as live musical numbers, both comedic and non.
Short and Martin each take a few minutes to perform solo, Short choosing to act out an incredibly funny story about a time in which he performed live nude theater in the 1970s, while Martin switches things up entirely, donning a banjo and performing a series of bluegrass songs with his backing band the Steep Canyon Rangers. Bluegrass is a tough sell, yet Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers somehow make it not only tolerable, but enjoyable to listen to.
Over the course of the better part of two hours, both performers had the crowd in their clutches. By the end it became clear that this was not a case of two old men rehashing bits and getting pity laughs from a crowd of boot-licking sycophants, this was a demonstration of why you can never underestimate a legend. At one point they joked about how the crowd had likely come out to “see us before we’re dead.” With an act as strong as this, one can only hope that doesn’t happen for a long long time.