That collective yawn you heard emanating from Washington, D.C. over the weekend? That was the response to Steve Martin being honored with the eighth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center on Sunday.
Martin joins other has-beens and comic milquetoasts such as Richard Pryor and Carl Reiner in taking home the prize, which certifies that you haven't been truly funny for at least the past 20 years. When Pryor became the first ex-comic to be entombed with the Twain award in 1999, some wise fool advised America to "Send Out the Clowns," including one Steve Martin:
The ex-wild-and-crazy guy, who once spoke in a stoned manner of "getting small," devoted album sides to banjo playing, and made clever movies such as Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and The Man with Two Brains, has fully achieved his goal of becoming Woody Allen West. That is, he's a "serious" artiste now, having appeared in a Broadway—yes, that serious—production of Waiting for Godot, penned his own dramedy about Einstein and Picasso meeting in Paris, and contributed to The New Yorker, all without ever once inspiring laughter, amusement, or entertainment—or for that matter, any insight whatsoever into the existential human misery to which he has contributed significantly (Sgt. Bilko is a surer sign that God is dead than anything Jean-Paul Sartre could cook up). In short, Martin has become every bit as mummified—and in clean-and-sober hindsight, every bit as unfunny—as the King Tut he once sang about with such reckless abandon.