I’ve never been all that wild and crazy about Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live years. But the essays he has written for The New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” section over the past few years are some of the funniest I’ve ever read. The other day when I was searching for one of those articles, I came across the website The Compleat Steve, which has an enormous collection of writing by and about Steve Martin, including transcripts of speeches and the Academy Awards show that he hosted a couple years ago. It’s hard to believe that the site isn’t infringing on a copyright somewhere, so maybe you should check it out soon, before the owner gets a “C and D” letter from somebody’s attorney.
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays, “Side Effects,” which sounds frighteningly similar to actual drug ads that run on Lifetime, CBS, and other channels for the aged:
DOSAGE: take two tablets every six hours for joint pain.
SIDE EFFECTS: This drug may cause joint pain, nausea, head-ache, or shortness of breath. You may also experience muscle aches, rapid heartbeat, and ringing in the ears. If you feel faint, call your doctor. Do not consume alcohol while taking this pill; likewise, avoid red meat, shellfish, and vegetables. O.K. foods: flounder. Under no circumstances eat yak.… You may find yourself becoming lost or vague; this would be a good time to write a screenplay. Do not pilot a plane, unless you are among the ten per cent of users who experience “spontaneous test-pilot knowledge.” If your hair begins to smell like burning tires, move away from any buildings or populated areas, and apply tincture of iodine to the head until you no longer hear what could be taken for a “countdown.” May cause stigmata in Mexicans.
The site’s owner also maintains a blog, Sharing Steve Martin, where he posts Steve Martin news and recent additions to Martin’s oeuvre. (Incidentally, I think oeuvre is one of those words that could get me beaten up if I said it in the wrong place.)