I hate to name-drop, but I used to be friends with Jesus Christ. Back in the 70’s, he often came to my house for breaks from his bum disguise. Once, before we went our separate ways forever (he found out I only liked him because I was scared of his dad), he told me:
“Say, Sam? That friend of yours, Steve Martin? Watch out for him. His great disdain for humanity will soon rob him of his comedic genius.” I just laughed at Jesus and called him naive. Unfortunately, it turns out he was right about Steve Martin. I hope he got the last laugh because none of us did.
So what happened to Steve? Anger. We let him into our hearts because his banjo playing was funny. But once embraced, he shook off this Trojan Horse and demanded we take his banjo playing seriously. We didn’t. And he now scornfully wastes his comedic gift before our very eyes. “You want funny, motherfuckers? I’ll show you funny! Watch this: I’m gonna slip on some marbles and fall face-first into a pie! Assholes!” The opposite of comedy is not tragedy – it’s just shitty comedy. Steve Martin knows this, and he uses it to hurt us. THAT is the tragedy, and it’s all ours.
About seven years ago, Steve wanted a painting, and he needed a cookie-cutter movie to fund it. In an attempt to reconnect with my old friend, I agreed to direct Cheaper by the Dozen. Steve had written it himself. Here is a sample of the script:
Suburban Mansion (Morning)
ME enters room wearing a suburban robe. ME has a shitload of kids. They’re all a bunch of fucking little monsters like kids in real life.
Something happens to make ME make a funny face. Ad-lib, ad-lib, etc. Funnier face. ME picks up a kid. Kid gets finger paint on ME’S robe.
Hey, my robe!
Kicked in nutz. Funny pain face.
Hey, that hurts!
Dances funny. Slips on marbles. Falls down face-first into pie. Slowly lifts pie-face up to look at camera.
Kids run blender with no top. Shit flies everywhere. ME makes funny face of disapproval. Anger ad-lib.
I can’t believe I have
so many kids!
It’s hard to keep track
of your names!
ME loses temper. Kids cry. A lesson is ad-libbed. ME apologizes for being such a cranky dad. Mom comes home from grocery store.
Hey, I know you told me to only
get 10 eggs, but I got 12 because
they’re cheaper that way.
As you can see, this shit apparently writes it self. So I figured it could direct itself too while I tried to get a tri-generational three-way going with Bonnie Hunt and Hilary Duff. Ultimately, that three-way was the only positive thing to come out of Cheaper by the Dozen. Unless you count the money, and I try to count every cent. It’s probably a very bad film. I didn’t watch it when I made it, and I’m sure as hell not gonna watch it now.
My mission to reconnect with Steve went awry on the first day when I told him to get his twangy fucking banjo out of my face. “Fine!” he pouted. “But you just talked yourself out of tickets to my magic show!” After that I just gave up on him. So should you. It is one of the easier ways to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
*Joke © Doc Happenin