December 3rd, 2010
04:40 PM ET
That recent speech that funnyman Steve Martin gave at the 92nd Street Y was no laughing matter – and that's exactly why the audience is getting their money back.
Guests who attended the November 29 event had expected to hear the comedy legend talk about his career, but they became irritated when the one-hour interview session - conducted by Martin's friend, New York Times Magazine columnist Deborah Solomon - remained focused on the art world, the subject of his new book, "An Object of Beauty."
Martin tells the New York Times that viewers who tuned in to the interview via closed-circuit TV began sending e-mails to the Y complaining “that the evening was not going the way they wished, meaning we were discussing art.” In fact, those in the venue reportedly cheered when Solomon was handed a note asking her to talk more about Martin's career.
The next day, Y executive director Sol Adler e-mailed an apology to the 900 ticket holders.
“We acknowledge that last night’s event with Steve Martin did not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y,” he wrote. “We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening. We will be mailing you a $50 certificate for each ticket you purchased to last night’s event.”
For her part, Solomon is "appalled" that the Y publicly criticized the duo's conversation. “The Y never told me what they wanted,” she says. “Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York, at the 92nd Street Y, would be interested in hearing about art and artists. I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it’s like to host the Oscars or appear in ‘It’s Complicated’ with Alec Baldwin."
But Beverly Greenfield, director of public and media relations at the 92nd Street Y, is standing by their decision. “The evening with Martin and Solomon just didn’t gel," she says. “On occasion, when a program clearly has not met our or our patrons’ expectations, we have offered patrons a credit.”
Meanwhile, Martin is surprised by the Y's "discourteous" behavior and wishes a consultation had taken place first. “As for the Y’s standard of excellence," he says, "it can’t be that high because this is the second time I’ve appeared there.”
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