Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Open Letter To Steve Martin

The following entry is a letter I sent to Steve Martin back in April of 2009, and aside from a few small changes for grammar and tense (that's tense as in "past and present tense", not "nervous and tense"...), this is exactly what I mailed out;

Dear Steve Martin,

Every once in a while a death makes me do things. I just found out today (April 15, 2009) about the passing of Clement Freud. Having well over a hundred different episodes of Just A Minute on my iPhone, I would rarely go more than a few days without hearing Clement’s melodious tones as I made my way thru the work day. Being a mailman with a large apartment complex to deliver, I could often go over an hour at a time without having any sort of interruption, other than the oh-so-fascinating pieces of mail to deliver, so music and comedy are huge for me. Being a fan of Clement’s wit, intellect, and rapid responses, especially for a man in his late 70’s and early 80’s (when the majority of my episodes are from within his lifespan), I often thought about sending him a letter just to let him know how much his humor has meant to me. So, being me, I of course never got around to it.

I just wanted to tell you that over the last 3 decades, you have made me laugh many, many, many times. I can remember quoting “Excuuuuse Me!” when I was about 7 or so, most likely from seeing you on The Muppet Show. I’ve recently being watching my Muppet Show DVD’s, and as much as I enjoy them all, your episode is a particular favorite. I have all of your comedy albums on the iPhone, and will hear tracks from them from time to time at work, and they always make me smile, no matter how many times I’ve heard them. It always struck me as some of the most clever and inventive material. My ‘heroes’ are George Carlin and Bill Hicks, for making us look at ourselves and challenging us to improve, and you rank somewhere near them in my comedy files. I love that most good comedians make you look at the everyday in a way that actually makes you think, if you’re willing to put in the effort. I listen to Monty Python, Richard Jeni, Mitch Hedberg, Eddie Izzard, Ross Noble, and yourself, and while all are different, at the same time, each of them makes you stop and look at something you’d ordinarily take for granted, and approach it from a different angle, and usually realize just how stupid it really is. Somehow, that’s comforting…

L.A. Story is one of my favorite films. I remember seeing it in the theater with a friend, and neither of us being quite sure of what we just saw. But I realized I was still thinking about it later, so I knew there was something to it that was worth it. I’ve got that on the iPhone too, and I’ll watch it every once in a while, enjoying every little joke that seems innocuous enough, but realizing they really do pack a punch, and have meaning. Because of that film, I became a fan of Django Reinhardt’s music (which kind of came full circle when I saw Dave McKean use some of his music in his short films…my favorite being ‘The Week Before’).

I also really enjoyed reading Born Standing Up. I voraciously read that over the course of 2 or 3 days, in any spare time I had. Enjoyed it immensely, as I always like learning more about people I admire. I can find out how the trick is done, and yet still appreciate the magic and the performance. And I admire a person who is so multi-talented, what with the magic, juggling, comedy, acting, writing…and an aficionado of art (I have a t-shirt of the Robert Crumb Weirdo cover you own from when your original art collection was at the Bellagio). I’m a comic book art collector myself, it is rather addictive. And I enjoy going to conventions, to meet artists I admire, and to get a chance to tell them how much I enjoy their work.

Basically, I wanted to thank you for being you. For making me use the brain. For expanding my musical horizons. For helping pass the time while I was at work. And for making me laugh.

Thanks Steve.


Ken Fries

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