Steve Martin Reflects On “Vulnerable” Moment UK Comic Asked Him Why “He Wasn’t Funny Any More”

Steve Martin may be riding high on his success with comedy-crime series Only Murders in the Building but, in a new documentary, he reflects on some troughs in his long career as well as the many high points.

The comedian – who got his big break as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, became one of the all-time most popular hosts of Saturday Night Live and went on to huge success with movies including The Man with Two Brains, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Roxanne and LA Story – is the subject of the two-part documentary STEVE! (Martin), directed by Oscar winner Morgan Neville, which premieres on Apple March 29.

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The doc includes an angst-inducing clip from 1996 when Martin was ambushed at the premiere of Sgt Bilko, one of his least successful movies, by the British red-carpet disruptor Dennis Pennis, played by comedian Paul Kaye. Footage, which went viral at the time, showed Martin asking Pennis “What’s the question?” when the microphone was put to him, and Pennis replied, “How come you’re not funny any more?” And the world cringed.

Neville told The Guardian of his decision to include the clip in the movie: “It was nasty. And I wanted to show how the world judges you when all you’re trying to do is be creative.”

Martin, with a fresh hit on his hands at the age of 78 thanks to Only Murders, told the newspaper: “It hurt because I was at a very vulnerable moment in my career.” However, he disputed claims that he cancelled all his remaining press interviews as a result of the insult:

“No! That’s just Wikipedia. Bad reviews hurt; they really hurt. But if I’m at a screening and I see the critic, I just go: ‘Hey! How you doing?’ Like you don’t know anything.”

He added of his moment of shade, courtesy of a British comic people haven’t heard quite so much of in recent years: “I hold no grudges. Things have gone well.”

Read the full interview here

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