Steve Martin on Disastrous Y Appearance: I 'Might Have' Been Boring
"I would have rather died onstage with art talk than with the predictable questions that had been chosen for me," he writes.
Steve Martin says the audience was too quick to judge him during an appearance at New York City's 92nd Street Y, in which he was criticized for speaking too much about the art world and not enough about his comedy career.
"I have no doubt that, in time, and with some cooperation from the audience, we would have achieved ignition. I have been performing a long time, and I can tell when the audience’s attention is straying," Martin wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece published Sunday. While speaking about his new book with NY Times columnist Deborah Solomon, a staff member interrupted with a note that urged her to "Discuss Steve's career." RELATED: Book review of Martin's 'An Object of Beauty.'
"I do not need a note," wrote Martin in his op-ed. "My mind was already churning like a weather front; at that moment, if I could have sung my novel to a Broadway beat I would have. But I can’t help wondering what we might have said if we hadn’t been stopped."
"I wasn’t told was that the viewers were going to be encouraged to send in e-mails during the discussion; I didn’t expect was that the Y would take the temperature of those e-mailed reactions, and then respond to them by sending a staff member onstage, mid-conversation, with a note ... as jarring and disheartening as a cellphone jangle during an Act V soliloquy…" continued Martin. "It was hard to get on track, any track, after the note’s arrival, and finally, when I answered submitted questions, I knew I would have rather died onstage with art talk than with the predictable questions that had been chosen for me."
"Now let me try to answer the question you might be asking yourself at this point: was I boring? Yes, I might have been. In hindsight, I probably should have read a few pages from my book to give the audience a feel for it, and I did struggle with a few explanations. But I was not lazy and neither was Deborah. We were both working very hard at our task."
The Y sent $50 vouchers to audience members after complaints that the evening "didn't gel." But Martin -- who originally called the center out for being "discourteous" says they have made peace.
"Since that night, the Y has graciously apologized for its hastiness — and I am pleased to say that I look forward to returning there soon, especially to play basketball," wrote Martin.