UnNews:Steve Martin interview: "How" to play banjo

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Steve Martin interview: "How" to play banjo

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12 August 2012


Steve doesn't give lessons

Hollywood, USA -- Stephen Martin was born in 1945. In 1947, he wrote a book about being born in 1945 - a description of "how" it happened. By the 1950's, Steve was already working for Walt Disney - he wrote a full biography on the theme park king and "how" it happened (Walt went nuts). By the 1960's, Stevie was now writing comedy for the Smothers Brothers - he wrote TWO books: Writing for Smothers and "How" to Smother your Brother. By the 1970's, a few people began to show up for his comedy show and he wrote a diary about "how" he got people to show up to his comedy show and "how" to avoid them afterwards.

In 1982, Steve wrote a film and starred in the film - he wrote a book about "how" to write that film and star in it too. In 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and through to 1998, Steve wrote so much material about "how" that he bought (or stole, depending on your belief) another house (and house keeper called Howard) to store the vast quantities of comedic hows. In 2009, Steve broke into that house and stole back all of the material (he likes playing tricks on himself) to review for his new book, Born Standing Up. He wrote another book BEFORE Born Standing Up (quick one) about "how" to break into your second home; later a prequel about "how" to get a second home.

His latest how-to book, is the book with the least pages - of all the other how-to books. Yet, the book tells the reader so much information. Born Standing Up is a great read.

Well... being a great journalist, I had to ask Steve "when?".

When will he write a book about "how" to play the banjo? I cheated you see and bought a six-string banjo (tuned the same way as a guitar) but I found I don't have six fingers. I strum it. I had to go in search of the man and ask my question.

We looked on his website (stevemartin.com) and the he's listed everywhere he will be! Easy peezy lemon squeezy right? WRONG. Steve was (but they never lose the ability) a magician. You will notice he never wrote "how" about being a magician - too secret. Anyway, Steve can be in a town somewhere in America but disappear mysteriously. We couldn't locate any hotel he may be staying at - we couldn't locate anything to suggest his presence in this particular state.

Feeling disappointed, I went to a bar alone. I ordered a Remy Martin (association but horrible drink) and sat back to work out what I'd tell my editor. I started to pen an excuse; when who should walk in the bar? Steve Martin - found him.

I know from other journalists that Steve can either love a chat or become irritated. I come up with a plan. He's sitting by himself so I'll pretend to be a waiter! WRONG, Steve knows every waiter. Can I drop a contact lens in his lap and start an a conversation as I already know his crotch? NO... Steve will shuffle me like a deck of cards - magician reflexes are like Bruce Lee but funny. How!? I ask myself. Ah. He never wrote a book about "how" to NOT speak to Steve Martin. I'll try the old fashioned "hello".

Before I can say "hello Mr. Martin", I say "banjo". Steve immediately asks me to sit! He says, "So you can hold it safely for a day?" I reply, "yes but I need the strap". Steve says, "I need the strap too" and I say, "wow, but why a whole day?" and he says, "I leave tomorrow, I'll pick the banjo up then", then I say... "Steve, are we talking about the same thing?"

Turns out Steve had left one spare banjo at a music shop for repairs... I said, "I thought you were giving me a lesson about banjos?" Then Steve had a Planes Trains flash back: "Why would I give it to you!!?" I swallow; gently saying: "kindness?"... He does the whole bit then: "Kiiinnnd-ness, kiiiind-nesss!?" I ask him if he's mad at me? Before he can slug me, I call him "Howdini" and close my eyes. His expression pacifies and he sits forward. "The what?" he asks? Very gently. I explain I'm a journalist who came all the way from London to ask him to write a book about "how" to play the banjo. He calls someone and talks secretly. After the call he simply says: "Your wish is granted."

What a cool guy. Check his website for updates, the book will be there soon no doubt. If you are lucky enough, go to one of his shows but DON'T ask him anything without using the abracadabra word - "How".

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