Audience gets a refund after Steve Martin disappoints
December 3rd, 2010
04:40 PM ET

Audience gets a refund after Steve Martin disappoints

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.”

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. jeatakit

    I'm sure the best for you new coach handbags to take huge discount for more

    February 7, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. TyV

    If you light a squirrel's tail on fire, throw it into a barn and expect it to come out with a platter of oatmeal cookies, you will be sorely dissapointed. Give them a refund.

    August 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mitch

    If Steve Martin appeared for free and this is a non profit situation then the money went for a good cause and that is what is important. However, in the future it might be wise to let ticket purchasers know what the primary focus of the subject matter will be. When a popular figure like Steve Martin is to be interviewed it is natural for people to think that he will be asked questions about his very interesting life. I think it is only fair to let people know prior to ticket purchase what the discussion/interview is about.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jones

    I would listen to Steve Martin talk about whatever he wants to talk about and never expect a refund. He is a funny man, at times, he's a brilliant actor, at times, he's an incredibly gifted banjo player, at times, and whatever HE chose to discuss would be fine with me. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that the Y gave money back and their explanation as to why is also ridiculous in the extreme.

    January 7, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Acheet Mapanz

    I know it's a Little Off Topic..but...did he play his Banjo?!...did he have an Arrow in His Head..That's funny stuff! hoaoaooaoaoao...He was Born a Poor Black Child you know...Shark..Jumped...Who would pay 50 Bucks for that? To see him in a Cub maybe..!

    January 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank Stanton

    True to form, Steve said, "Excuuuuuuse me." I can live with that.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joachim

    Serious art has become Mr Martin's forte. Anyone expecting a different focus is comically uninformed.

    January 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    Almost every comedian I have ever heard on Howard Stern can't stand Martin. Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, etc have all said Steve Martin thinks he is more important than he is. He wants to be an Artist with the same caliber of fame as he earned being a comedian. He had no problem being the goofy funny guy when he needed the money but now he turns his back on his fans. I guarantee that if this Y group told people Steve Martin would only be discussing art, about a 1/3 would have shown up. Steve if you’re reading this, you’re not an artist but an actor who isn't funny anymore. Go play your lame banjo and leave real artist alone.

    December 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joachim

      If Mr Rock and Mr Seinfeld soared on the wings of eagles, they might rise high enough to sniff Mr Martin's jockstrap. Until they reach those aquiline heights, they should not criticize their betters.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    A lot of the blame must lie with Deborah Solomon. Her weekly interview pieces in the NYT magazine are awfully tiresome too.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shannon

    Anyone hear him play banjo? He has a great album out and wrote most of the songs on it! The guy's great, and multi-talented. I'd pay $50 just to see what he came up with. If he has thoughts on art, music, film, food, whatever – I'd like to hear them.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jane Doe

    In Mr. Martin's defense, he had quite a nice collection of art. I enjoyed it's viewing along with his commentary while it was displayed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas several years ago.

    December 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. StaggeringStupidity

    I used to live in NYC and for many years after leaving wanted to move back there someday. It felt like you weren't living in the striving-to-be-average U.S. Now, the mentality doesn't really seem so much different than, say, Atlanta. Maybe people just gravitate toward the lowest common denominator during difficult times. Or, maybe it's just the people that a wholly gentrified city attracts.

    December 28, 2010 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. mike

    Yes, Steve Martin stopped being funny 10 years ago, as is his right. It is also OUR right not to be fascinated with another narcissistic, self absorbed high school dropout with delusions of artistic grandeur. Steve – want to be known as an artist? Create some(one!)thing of beauty!

    Want to hear something wild and crazy? Since it's a different Steve Martin, his celebrity license should be revoked for now and let him start again at regaining it on the pseudo-intellectual circuit.

    December 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scott

    The snobs at the "Y" bought tickets to listen to a Steve Martin interview. I did myself. I was entertained and happy to hear from a great entertainer on a subject which is important to him. He just wrote a new book. What did these fools think they were going to hear? We already know about his career. The "Y" made a huge mistake. The snobs are just mistakes themselves.

    December 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PJ

    Dont worry,there are plenty of shameless talentless hacks out there that would do anything to have one tenth the career steve martin has enjoyed.

    'second time Ive appeared there' indeed You rock on, Steve..

    December 23, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  16. elvis316

    The point is, people went there to be entertained, not listen to him shamelessly hawk his new book. Save it for Barnes and Noble. Yes, yes, yes, he's a serious actor and artist now, of course nobody will remember he got famous telling fart jokes while playing the banjo and wearing an arrow through his head.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  17. Sam

    What is sad about this is that Steve Martin appeared for free, and the 92nd Street Y is a non-profit organization. So, they refunded money that keeps the organization afloat. Anyone who asked for or accepted a refund should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • zbtrocker

      Wow. I didn't know that. What a spoiled generation we are. It's really sad.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Russ

    I don't know why anyone would pay to see Steve Martin these days. I used to be a big fan, but he ceased being funny at least a decade ago.

    December 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      That's because he hasn't tried to be funny in about a decade. He knows there is more to life than comedy, and I commend him on continuing to grow in life. He has nothing to apologize for.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • ontheroadagain

      he is not a comedian any more .he is a blue grass banjo player

      January 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Jo

    Grow up people. I assume the roster explained what was up for the evenning? You have obviously not been following his career for the last two decades at all. It's like when Lind Rondstat put out an all spanish album and tried to do a spanish songs at a concert and got bood off the stage. God forbid someone try to expand their horizons. Afraid of learning something? As for being arrogant, I found him knowlagable, amusing and quite facinating. I learned something. If you don't learnanything else It's, YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING UNTIL THE DAY YOU DIE, if you're smart. There's to much out there to learn.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  20. linda

    I think I'm going to buy Steve's book.

    December 8, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  21. irene

    The refund seems a bit much. However, I did catch Mr. Martin talking about his book on Charlie Rose. I didn't expect the arrow through the head or jokes about how to be a millionaire and never pay taxes. I've been very interested in Mr. Martin's previous literary adventures, most notably his autobiography. However, in this interview about "An object of beauty" he came across as pompous and dull – sort of a hard combo to pull off, but he did it. Still, a refund? Come on, people. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

    December 5, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  22. Karen

    "Well, excuuussssee meeeeee..." But, he doesn't owe anybody anything, does he?! If he's matured beyond the arrow through the head type of material, can we blame him? That was pretty silly, don't you think? I recently saw him on Charlie Rose to promote his latest book, and I found him to be a rather shy kind of guy, and self deprecating. That, I think, is the real Steve Martin: thoughtful, creative, writer of Broadway plays, novels, etc. What we saw in the 70's and 80's was not the real " wild and crazy" kind of guy. Let's get real...

    December 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jeff Wright

    If you laughed at Mr. Martin's response please mail him $50.

    “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.”

    December 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Michael

    Steve Martin has reinvented himself over the past decade as an artist of surprising potential. The failure is with the audience in expecting prepackaged warmed-over comedy material. And so what if he was boring? You paid your $50 for a live experience; when you go to a live performance, there's always the element of the unexpected. Grow up, people. Don't impose your television standards on live performance.

    Here's a good discussion of this incident:

    December 4, 2010 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  25. Sharon

    Doctor Biobrain, you said it well. No need for me to add anything more.

    December 4, 2010 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  26. Doctor Biobrain

    I think the problem wasn't that he wasn't funny, but that he wasn't interesting. Nobody was expecting slapstick. But surely they didn't pay $50 to hear a non-artist talk about art. Had it been a free ticket, it'd be rude for anyone to complain about what they got. But for $50, they should have delivered the goods. You don't get paid for boring.

    December 4, 2010 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • PubbyPab

      Yes, I would certainly hate to hear a 65-year-old man, a "non-artist", who had been collecting and studying art his entire adult life, speak about art. That would be as non-edifying as, say, hearing Pauline Kael, a non-filmmaker, who had spent her entire adult life writing about and studying film, speak about film. Know-nothings, I tell you!!

      December 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Puddy

      The difference is that if I paid $50 to hear Pauline Kael and then she began to discuss the mathematical formulas that make up the pyramids, I would want my money back because I came to hear about the movies. Just like those people wanted to laugh.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Quinlan Atkinson

    If I eat pancakes at a barbecue, I would expect it to still taste like pancakes. If I see Steve Martin in Manhattan at the 92nd and Street Y, I would expect him to be funny – especially if I paid money for it. That's how he earned his bones. Anything less would be "discourteous."

    December 4, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      You go to a barbequeue looking for pancakes, and you're disappointed because all they have are ribs and chicken, so you want a refund? This was a discussion about art; Martin had just published a book about art. The behavior of the Y and the behavior of the crowd was shameful and disgusting.

      December 4, 2010 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      Apparently someone hasn't been following steve Martin's career closely. Mr Martn's book, starting with Shop Girl (and the movie) have not been slapstick comdey. He has evolved. If you had seen his interview with Charlie Rose over the last several years, you would know that he is not a one note wonder. Mr Martin is an intelligent, well spoken, well verse gnetleman. Given the topic of his latest book, The 92nd Y behaved poorly and in ill form – as did it's patrons. I hope other speakers boycott them for their treatment of Mr Martin – for publicly stated he did not meet their standards.

      December 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • sibmnyc

      I feel ya, however, 92nd street Y is not a comedy club. It's an art / lit hot spot. It's a center for authors, writing workshops, artists and more. It's not the Laugh Factory.
      If I went to a 92nd street Y event, especially one featuring a writer who JUST released a book. I would expect to hear about the book.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Since when is it the audience's fault that they're not being entertained? The very notion that the people who paid $50 each to hear the guy talk are somehow "discourtious" is laughable at best. They were even handed a note saying they should change topics, and refused to do so.

      Steve just doesn't seem to be getting it. For all his multifaceted brilliance, we simply want Steve Martin, Funnyman. No one gives a crap about your banjo or what play you took in last fortnight. Just say something funny and we'll give you laughs and money. Is that really so bad?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  28. Kerri

    I am very disappointed with my life , entirely. I expected larage breasts (judging by my older sisters), and here I am nearly 50 and flat chested. Not to metion the failed marriage, the kids who never did do what i advised, or any number of other things. I'd like a refund-och, wait a bit, I've just remembered. This is LIFE. Gimme a break: can not this nation listen to anything that is not slapstick, funny, or immediately gratifying?
    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph....would you have THEM entertain you 24/7 as well?

    December 4, 2010 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      good points kerry!

      December 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anastasia

      Nicely put!

      December 6, 2010 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Kerri, may I wish you a very Merry Christmas? Your comment sent me rolling in laughter, and your comments were "dead on" accurate! Whiners are apparently trying to take over the planet, but I am happy to see that they don't get by you! Bravo! One of my grandsons has nicknamed me, "Bob", but I am the grandmother of 10 fabulous and amazing kids, none of which are allowed to whine or blame someone else for their calamity or discontent! Didn't you love the closing comment by Steve Martin who doubted the excellent standards of the "Y", as it was the SECOND time he had been asked to perform there! ZING and bravo to Steve, too! Have a SAFE holiday season!

      December 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Synidkiu

      WAKE UP!!! Keri you are jus complaining and its like why come you taint just gonna be happy with what you have? I am sick of it. It is facts people! You google it and you find it. It is simple, facts. I am with you 100% in this but the time for being a baby isnt now, not in the season. Especially in light of the art worlds response to the articles flows. Martin should not be the one for example that time is too from the other ones.

      December 29, 2010 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |

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