Trying to get a word in edgewise between longtime performers and buddies Steve Martin and Martin Short is a futile endeavor.
“I’m in my cottage in Canada,” Short says in response to a question about location.
“He’s always bragging,” says Martin. “He can’t just say, ‘I’m in Canada.’”
“And when I say ‘cottage,’ I mean massive estate,” says Short.
“And I’m at my manor in Santa Barbara,” deadpans Martin.
It’s easy to take step back and let the two do their thing, a witty repartee that smacks of genuine adoration and goes back more than 30 years. They met in the mid-’80s during their first movie together, the goofball comedy “Three Amigos” that also starred Chevy Chase. They’ve gone on to make four more, including “Father of the Bride” in 1991.
“I was delighted,” says Martin. “I thought Marty was really funny, affable. We got along from the first moment. It’s now that we don’t get along.”
“I didn’t know Steve or Chevy,” jokes Short. “I found them immediately not intimidating. Maybe because I went to dailies and saw their work. When comedians get together, there’s an instant camaraderie because you’ve done the same thing. You have common ground.”
The two will bring their “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t” musical show to the Pikes Peak Center on Saturday. Joining them are Steep Canyon Rangers, the bluegrass band with whom Martin regularly sings and plays banjo, and pianist Jeff Babko.
Martin doesn’t like to use the words “variety show” to describe the event, but it’s an apt description of an evening that features comedy, music and more.
“We have different styles,” says Martin. “Marty does characters, voices, impressions and can sing. I do whatever I do, and I can play.”
So did they learn from each other on the set of their first movie?
“Not really,” teases one.
“What not to do,” the other jabs back. It’s hard to tell who says what during the banter.
Then Martin offers a more serious answer: “I learn from Marty today, though. I learn to be less nervous about certain jokes, like I’m kind of cautious, we can’t say that. Marty’s attitude is who cares? I say social media.”
“And I say I’m not on it,” says Short.
The new show is a response to the popularity of the 2018 tour “Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life,” which resulted in a Netflix special of the same name. The idea for the shows spun out of an onstage interview at the Just for Laughs Festival in Chicago in 2011, where the pair’s natural chemistry bloomed and they decided to make the most of it.
Martin, who earned his chops through stand-up comedy, gained fame as a host on “Saturday Night Live” since 1976 and played to sold-out crowds in the early ‘80s before segueing into a successful film career, with offerings such as “The Jerk,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “L.A. Story.” Short found success via the hit Canadian comedy series “SCTV” and then “Saturday Night Live.” He won a Tony Award in 1998 for portraying multiple roles in the revival of Neil Simon’s musical “Little Me.”
Even during a 15-minute interview, it’s clear the two delight in each other. They could chit-chat and taunt each other for hours.
Martin remembers one particular Achilles’ heel his buddy kept poking.
“When I was 60 and Marty was 54, he used to tease me mercilessly about my age,” says Martin. “When he turned 60, he couldn’t do it anymore.”
“It’s different when you’re perceived as timeless,” says Short. “You’re more impervious about your age because you’re timeless.”
After decades of friendship and work, they know each other’s quirks and habits as well as significant others. While Martin has an affinity for true crime TV shows — for the process of how they’re solved — Short claims to have no such interest.
“You watch the news,” Martin reminds him.
“I watch Bill Maher,” says Short.
“I heard you were hilarious on Bill Maher,” says Martin. “I’m going to have to dig it up and watch it.”
“You don’t know how to. Go to YouTube,” says Short. “I’m just trying to help you through the day.”
At this point, somebody mentions TiVo.
“Steve’s just discovering it,” says Short. “Before then, he thought it was one of the Jackson 5.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM