Steve Martin receives AFI tribute


A host of stars paid tribute to Steve Martin as he received the American Film Institute’s life achievement award, its highest honour, on Thursday.

Steve Carell, Diane Keaton and Martin Short were among those who joined Martin at the Los Angeles ceremony.

Tina Fey called him “the first rock star comedian”, while Jack Black sang The Thermos Song from The Jerk.

“How do I top this parade of stars who have been so, so funny?” said Martin, as he received his award. “Easy.”

“Tonight is especially meaningful to me,” he added, “because when I was a kid, I used to get all dressed up and play AFI Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Martin, who turns 70 this year, is best known for films including Parenthood, The Man With Two Brains, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Roxanne.

He is also an author and a prolific banjo player, releasing a Bluegrass album in 2009 called The Crow.


“Usually, when I hear white people playing banjos, it’s time for me to get the hell out of that neighbourhood,” quipped Queen Latifah, who branded Martin “the whitest man in America”.

Short, who starred with Martin on five films, including Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride, added that working with the comedian was like the film Deliverance: “It’s all fun and games until the banjo comes out.”

Looking back on their career, he recalled: “I said to Steve, what would you be doing if you weren’t a talented comedic actor?’ And he said, ‘Probably what you’re doing.'”

Fey described “the first time I saw one of Steve’s movies – it was on the plane ride here today. And in the part I saw before my biscuit arrived, Queen Latifah was really funny.”

She shared some of Martin’s early advice to her: “Never shake hands when an open-mouthed kiss would suffice…You can fix your nose, or your teeth. But to do both is more money than I’m willing to lend you.”

Carell told the audience he had “spent the majority of my life doing a pale imitation of Steve Martin, and I resent him for this”.


“He’s not just the silly comic genius, but a real person,” added Sarah Silverman. “A real stiff, awkward, aloof person, but also standoffish.”

The comedian was presented with the award by Mel Brooks, who received the same honour in 2013.

Martin, who has won an Emmy, four Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honour and an Honorary Oscar, concluded on a humble note.

“Last year I was walking down the street and a young girl about 17 said to me: ‘Did you do that (1979) movie The Jerk? I said, yes, I did.

“And she said, ‘You gonna do another movie?”

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