Editor’s Note: This article was updated on August 23, 2017
Their relationship was first showcased in the 1986 cult classic ¡Three Amigos! and they massaged their tumultuous dynamic in Father of the Bride and its sequel. And now, some 30 years later, Steve Martin and Martin Short are taking jabs, crooning tunes and touring the country together like nothing has changed.
The hilarious pair returns to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on August 25 for An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Lives. On top of belly laughs and awkward snorting, showgoers will also be treated to a performance by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band will be promoting its forthcoming project, The Long-Awaited Album.
We caught up with the pair before their Las Vegas show to learn more about what to expect this go-round.
Of course I’d like to picture you guys in a tour bus together for the long road trips, but I imagine that’s not how you travel.
Steve Martin: Our band has a tour bus, and sometimes we hitch a ride with them. Sometimes we fly. So, it depends.
Martin Short: Hey, Steve, I’ve never hitched a ride with them!
SM: You have no romance! You’re talking to a journalist! [Laughs.]
MS: Yes! Oh, my God! I’m on a tour bus now; it’s so beautiful.
SM: We shower together on the tour bus!
MS: Yep, some people say you could wait, but we say: Why bother?
It saves water! I feel like a shared musical interest is key to a proper traveling relationship. Can you guys agree on a playlist?
SM: Oh, no. We don’t agree on anything!
MS: Steve has his tastes, I have mine.
SM: We’ve decided to live separate lives.
MS: You heard the reaction, Steve, you still got it.
SM: At least it’s consistent.
After working together for so many years, are there ever any surprises?
SM: I’d say yes, absolutely, we’re always making each other laugh.
MS: And that’s certainly a surprise!
SM: The fact that we even work on new material is a surprise. [Both laugh.]
MS: I think we both improvise and change things—there are constant surprises. And if they’re good, they go in the show.
Any good Vegas stories you want to share?
SM: We like coming to Vegas. It has been a big part of my career my whole life. In my memoir, Born Standing Up, I did write a bit about Vegas. I remember going there when I was 20; my girlfriend was a dancer in one of the shows there. I think I had a total of $4, and I put some money in a slot machine and won 50 cents. And it literally changed my entire vacation, because I now had 50 cents more. That’s how cheap things were back then.
MS: So you were really taking that date out for some great meals, huh?
You’ll be playing Caesars’ Colosseum again in a few days. What do you think of Vegas audiences in general?
SM: They’re really good, and it used to be very difficult, because they used to serve dinners during the shows—I’m talking in the ’70s. So, you could never get this tight feeling of audience. But now it’s just a showroom and it’s fantastic. The audiences are great.
If you have time to see any Vegas shows while in town, which ones would you see?
SM: I’d definitely see Penn & Teller.
MS: I’d see O. Is O still playing?
SM: It closed in ’85, but yeah.
MS: I’d see Cirque du Soleil, anything with The Beatles. But it’d depend who was playing.
SM: Yeah, it would depend, but I always go see Penn & Teller when I’m there.
In your shows, do you allow for improvisation or is it mostly scripted?
SM: Over time, you get to do things you really like. And you get to do them over and over. We’re partly scripted and partly improvised. The improvised part is really the rapport [we have with each other]. … It’s not like you ad lib a five-minute routine; you might ad lib a line or an attitude or something physical. And that’s what keeps the performance alive.
So is each show on tour fairly unique?
SM: We really don’t know what’s going to happen.
MS: I think what’s important when you’re known for a long time is for the audience to not necessarily feel that every joke is perfect, but that we seem loose and like we’re having fun. And that they were there on an evening when we were really happy to be there.
SM: And we’re really good at faking that!
You’re both well- known for the well developed characters you portray. Do you each have a favorite character you’ve played?
MS: For me, I let people tell me what they like. It all varies. It sounds disgusting, but if you do a character that’s known, you kind of want feedback on that, rather than telling them what to like.
SM: One of my favorites was playing Inspector Clouseau (Pink Panther). I still pull him out of the hat when I’m driving around. I really enjoyed playing him. Martin, that’s where you jump in and say, “Yeah, that was great.”
MS: Oh, yeah, that was great, Steve. You doing what you just said.
Steve, tell me a little bit about your new project, The Long-Awaited Album with the Steep Canyon Rangers.
SM: It’s 14 new songs. Our last album together was about six years ago. It was a big hit, for our world—the bluegrass world. Now I’m back with the Rangers, playing on stage and playing our music. We really like it!
Any chance you two will revisit the silver screen together?
MS: Not unless they paid on the scale I like. [Laughs.]
SM: You’re not going to work for below scale anymore.
MS: Nope. Not anymore. A new me.
SM: That’s not on my radar right now. I actually have a radar.
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life
August 25, 7:30 p.m., $50–$175, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, thecolosseum.com