The Jerk: Steve Martin and His Wacky Self
When the movie, The Jerk, came out in 1979, I was 24-years-old. In those days, I thought that Steve Martin's humor was "stupid," and I never felt the desire to watch it.
Fast forward 36 years, and LoudMan 's mention of the movie in a comment, I was propelled to find it through my library system; last night I watched it.
Prior to that mention, I came across an article that Steve Martin wrote for Smithsonian.com. In Being Funny, he reveals his struggle in the entertainment field, trying to find his way to a comedy appreciated by audiences and other comics alike. Especially, interesting were the tales of bombing with the great Johnny Carson. ( The article is well-worth the read .)
The Jerk was not the type of comedy that I would generally have enjoyed, had I not first read his biographical essay. It is a bit too slapstick, at times, for me. I still found his humor rather "stupid." Admittedly, I am probably a bit more uncomfortable than others to humor that involves reference to race. But it worked.
Martin's humor, as a comic doing stand-up or his movies, is marked most often by making fun of himself in the most exaggerated ways possible. And it works.
In that way, I can understand him, as I have always said (about self-deprecating humor): "If I can make fun of myself, and make people laugh, then everyone and everything else is fair game. If they haven't laughed, at least I have been seen laughing."
Perhaps, that is what works for Steve Martin.
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© Copyright 2015- Coral Levang - All Rights Reserved
Comedy - SteveMartin - TheJerk
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LeaPea2417 wrote on September 14, 2015, 12:51 PM
I have seen that movie "The Jerk" many times. I think it is hilarious and each time I see it, it still makes me laugh.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 12:54 PM
I know that I will probably check out some of his other movies now.
markgraham wrote on September 14, 2015, 12:56 PM
I really was not too fond of the movie either. I liked Steve Martin in the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies and "Father of the Bride" movies. I like slapstick humor sometimes.
MegL wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:10 PM
I have very much enjoyed many of Steve Martin's films but not others. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground!
JohnRoberts wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:11 PM
I saw The Jerk and it may be his silliest slapstick comedy save the dismal Pink Panther reboot. His comedy is more subtle in films like Roxanne. He is at his funniest in the old SNL skits: Just a wild and crazy guy!
Rufuszen wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:40 PM
Never found Steve Martin that funny. Just one of those things.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:45 PM
markgraham I'm glad to know I am not the only one on this one. I have seen a couple of his movies that I enjoyed, like FOTB.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:46 PM
Yes! JAWACG was great! And I liked that kind of zanier humor.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:47 PM
MegL I'm thinking the same thing here. But, after reading his essay for the Smithsonian, I have to say that I can appreciate him much more, even if I do not always enjoy his films or brand of humor.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 1:48 PM
I think it is the over-the-top stuff I don't like as much. But with Robin Williams, I loved his OTT brand of zany.
JohnRoberts wrote on September 14, 2015, 2:16 PM
And SNL is where he he debuted King Tut!
LoudMan wrote on September 14, 2015, 2:29 PM
LoudMan wrote on September 14, 2015, 2:31 PM
I can't help but relate to his comedy and I find The Jerk to be a wurk of jeniess. And, the particular racial jokes he did in that movie were helpful in getting folks to cross some lines which desparately needed to be crossed, at the time. Even Mr Martin himself might not realize it but, he very well might have prevented a race war.1
LoudMan wrote on September 14, 2015, 2:36 PM
Thank you for the mention and I recommend "Novocaine" for what might be the longest, slowest, darkest joke in human history.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 4:30 PM
I have seen that, on SNL. I enjoyed that show when he and the other greats were on it.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 4:33 PM
I can appreciate that from the historical perspective. And I know what you are saying, and rather agree with you. I have simply been uncomfortable with that humor, probably because I grew up with horrible racial humor. I was a very little girl, of 7 years old telling my parents they were bad for the racial jokes they were telling that hurt people of different races/religions. Needless to say, I was in trouble a lot, they not understanding me, any more than I did them.
missfortune wrote on September 14, 2015, 6:16 PM
i loved the "pizza in a cup"idea in the movie - I wonder why no one ever ran with that. Maybe they did and I missed it. Kitten juggling .. priceless1
LoudMan wrote on September 14, 2015, 6:23 PM
The Dear Navan (sp?) letter bit was awesome.
DWDavisRSL wrote on September 14, 2015, 6:36 PM
My favorite Steve Martin role was the one where he played a supporting role in a movie with Alec (pardon me while I gag) Baldwin and Meryl (I just love her work) Streep called "Its' Complicated."
inertia4 wrote on September 14, 2015, 6:52 PM
I loved that movie. I thought that was an extremely funny movie. I always liked Steve Martin. Even when he did Saturday Night Live once in awhile. I think the movie The Jerk is one of his funniest movies ever.
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 6:52 PM
You and I are in agreement on both Baldwin and Streep!
CoralLevang wrote on September 14, 2015, 7:07 PM
There are many here who agree with you.
inertia4 wrote on September 14, 2015, 7:59 PM
I know. But everyone has their own tastes with comedy.
lexiconlover wrote on September 15, 2015, 6:43 AM
I love this movie. The first time I watched it I was sure I was going to hate it but it's one of my favorite Steve Martin movies.
lexiconlover wrote on September 15, 2015, 6:44 AM
He was in the remake of two or three of the Pink Panther movies and is absolutely perfect for that role.
lexiconlover wrote on September 15, 2015, 6:45 AM
You've seen the second one right? Those are probably the best SM movies.
FourWalls wrote on September 15, 2015, 8:34 AM
I think a real sleeper for Steve is "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." He plays a detective and does a lot of talking to gumshoes from other movies.
DWDavisRSL wrote on September 15, 2015, 8:45 AM
When it comes to Alec Baldwin I have to remind myself that being able to memorize lines isn't the same as being intelligent.
CoralLevang wrote on September 15, 2015, 10:53 AM
Does he play the Inspector?
CoralLevang wrote on September 15, 2015, 10:57 AM
*laughs* But you do have to admit, he plays a great a$$hole (Blake) in Glengarry Glen Ross. LOL
CoralLevang wrote on September 15, 2015, 10:58 AM
Now, I thought that was great movie. LOL
lexiconlover wrote on September 15, 2015, 11:28 AM
Yes, that he does. The first one is better than the second, but isn't that always the case.
chrisandmark wrote on September 16, 2015, 4:33 PM
I love Steve Martin - watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for about the 50th time just this evening! lol