The irony of Steve Martin's life isn't lost on him

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NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Martin has agelong marveled astatine nan galore phases of his life. There’s his younker arsenic a Disneyland performer, surrounded by vaudeville performers and magicians. A decade arsenic a stand-up earlier nan abrupt onset of stadium-sized popularity. An abrupt displacement to movies. Later, a caller section arsenic a banjo player, a begetter and, a drama act, once again, pinch Martin Short.

It’s specified a confounding drawstring of chapters that Martin has typically only approached his life piecemeal aliases schizophrenically. He titled an audiobook “So Many Steves.” His memoir, “Born Standing Up,” covered only his stand-up years. In it, he wrote that it was really a curriculum vitae “because I americium penning astir personification I utilized to know.”

“My life has galore octopus arms,” Martin says, speaking from his New York apartment.

People participate successful documentaries for each kinds of reasons. But Martin whitethorn beryllium unsocial successful making a movie astir his life pinch nan instruction of: “See if you tin make consciousness of each THAT.” Morgan Neville, nan documentary filmmaker of the Fred Rogers film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and the posthumous Anthony Bourdain image “Roadrunner,” took up nan challenge.

Yet Neville, too, was hesitant astir immoderate holistic position of Martin. The resulting movie is really two. “STEVE! (martin) a documentary successful 2 pieces,” premiering Friday connected Apple TV+, splits Martin’s communicative successful 2 halves. One depicts Martin’s stand-up arsenic it unfolded, pinch copious contributions from diary entries and aged photographs. The different captures Martin’s life arsenic it is coming — riding electrical bikes pinch Short, practicing nan banjo — pinch reflections connected nan profession that followed.

It’s an effort to synthesize each nan Steve Martins, aliases astatine slightest statement them up adjacent to each other. The “King Tut” feline pinch nan arrow done his head. The “wild and crazy guy.” The “Jerk.” The Grammy-winner. The caller writer. And nan self-lacerating comic who says successful nan film: “I guarantee I had nary talent. None.”

“I’m going to opportunity thing very immodest: I person a modesty astir my career,” Martin says, chuckling. “Just because you do a batch of things doesn’t mean they’re good. I cognize that clip evaluates things. So there’s thing for maine to guidelines connected to measure my efforts. But an outsider tin make consciousness of it.”

Neville, who joined nan video telephone from his location successful Pasadena, California, didn’t group retired to make 2 films astir Martin. But six months into nan process, it crystalized for him arsenic nan correct structure. Through lines emerged.

FILE - Steve Martin arrives astatine nan 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party connected Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, successful Beverly Hills, Calif. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary "Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces." (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - Steve Martin arrives astatine nan 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party connected Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, successful Beverly Hills, Calif. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary “Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces.” (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

“When I look astatine nan things Steve’s done successful his life — playing banjo, magic, stand-up — these are things that return awesome effort to master,” Neville says. “But successful a way, it’s nan changeless moving astatine it. Even seeing Steve prime up a banjo, it’s never, ‘I nailed it.’ It’s always: ‘I could do that a small better.’”

Looking backmost hasn’t travel people to Martin. He’s agelong resisted nan benignant of life-story curen of a movie for illustration “STEVE!” But Martin, 78, grants he’s now astatine that clip of life wherever you can’t thief it. Even if reliving immoderate things smarts.

“The first part, that’s what I really person a difficult clip watching,” Martin says. “When I’m connected black-and-white homemade video being truthful not funny.”

Martin grew up successful Orange County successful awe of Jerry Lewis, Laurel and Hardy and Nichols and May. His first job, arsenic an 11-year-old, was trading guideline books astatine Disneyland. He drifted toward nan Main Street Magic Shop. Stage performers for illustration Wally Boag became his idols.

When Martin, aft studying accuracy successful assemblage and penning for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” began stand-up, he drew copiously from Boag and others, filtering nan showmanship of vaudeville into an avantgarde act, conscionable pinch balloon animals and an arrow done his head. Donning nan persona of, arsenic he says successful nan film, “a comedian who thinks he’s funny but isn’t,” his regular moved distant from punchlines and toward an absurd irony pinch “free-form laughter.”

Martin’s enactment was groundbreaking and, successful nan 1970s, erstwhile astir comics were doing governmental material, it became wildly popular. “He’s up location pinch nan astir idolized comedians ever,” Jerry Seinfeld says successful nan film. Now, Martin doesn’t spot overmuch from those years that makes him laugh.

FILE - Comedian Steve Martin holds nan Grammy Award which he won for Best Comedy Recording for nan medium "A Wild And Crazy Guy," successful Los Angeles connected Feb. 15, 1979. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary "Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces." (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

FILE - Comedian Steve Martin holds nan Grammy Award which he won for Best Comedy Recording for nan medium “A Wild And Crazy Guy,” successful Los Angeles connected Feb. 15, 1979. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary “Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces.” (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

“Then location are these moments that I deliberation of arsenic capacity glory, but they past a infinitesimal aliases 2 minutes. It was each truthful new. It was breathtaking because it was caller to nan assemblage and to me.”

Martin tends to beryllium difficult connected himself. In 1 precocious segment successful “STEVE!” he and Short are going complete imaginable jokes, but astir don’t make nan trim for Martin.

It’s tempting to delegate immoderate of this quality to Martin’s famously captious father, Glenn, a real-estate salesman who had his ain unrealized ambitions successful show business. At meal aft nan premiere of “The Jerk,” he pronounced his boy “no Charlie Chaplin.” But Martin disagrees.

“I don’t deliberation so,” says Martin. “It’s bully to beryllium difficult connected yourself. It’s conscionable nan measurement I do it. I conscionable want to spell complete it and spell complete it. I recognize it’s each successful nan details. It’s each successful nan timing.”

That makes Martin deliberation of a joke that he and Short person considered for their enactment but frankincense acold deemed excessively esoteric.

“I say, ‘You know, Marty, immoderate comedians opportunity funny things. And immoderate comedians opportunity things funny. And you conscionable opportunity … things,’” says Martin, laughing. “But there’s a truth successful saying funny things and saying things funny. You locomotion nan line. Our lives now are saying funny things and it utilized to beryllium saying things funny.”

It’s a line, typically nonstop successful its wording, that perfectly represents nan irony of Martin’s ain life. In 1981, Martin discontinue stand-up, he thought for good. The enactment had tally its people and he was happy to modulation to movies. It wasn’t until decades later, erstwhile Martin prepared to circuit arsenic a banjo player, that a friend convinced him audiences were going to want a small banter successful betwixt songs.

FILE - Actor-comedian Steve Martin arrives astatine nan premiere of his film, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" successful Los Angeles connected May 9, 1982. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary "Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces." (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)

FILE - Actor-comedian Steve Martin arrives astatine nan premiere of his film, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” successful Los Angeles connected May 9, 1982. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary “Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces.” (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)

“So I had this panic and I started moving connected material,” Martin says. “Eventually I became what I grew up with, which is simply a people euphony enactment pinch a funny monologist, making funny intros to songs.”

That’s bled into Martin’s unexpected return to stand-up. Martin and Short, friends since nan 1986 drama “Three Amigos!” person go nan premier double enactment of today, starring connected nan acclaimed Hulu bid “Only Murders successful nan Building” and performing connected nan road. They cuttingly but affectionately volley quip aft quip pinch nan finesse of Grand Slam champions.

The irony isn’t mislaid connected Martin. The no-punchline comedian has go a person of punchlines.

“I’ve shape-shifted into a personification who really appreciates nan joyousness of telling jokes,” shrugs Martin. “Marty and I successful our show is joke aft joke aft joke.”

FILE - Comedian Steve Martin left, appears pinch big Johnny Carson during an quality connected "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" successful Burbank Calif., July 19, 1980. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary "Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces." (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

FILE - Comedian Steve Martin left, appears pinch big Johnny Carson during an quality connected “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” successful Burbank Calif., July 19, 1980. Martin is nan taxable of a caller documentary “Steve! (Martin) a Documentary successful 2 Pieces.” (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

It’s not nan only reversal Martin ne'er expected. After spending astir of his life not wanting children, Martin and his woman of 17 years, Anne Stringfield, person an 11-year-old daughter. She’s seen only arsenic a animation successful “STEVE!” to protect her privacy.

Even much confounding for Martin: After a life riddled by worry he’s strangely content. Maybe moreover happy. “Yes, I dislike to opportunity it,” Martin says shaking his head.

Martin likes to opportunity he has a “relaxed mind” now. He’s peeled distant a batch — competitiveness, group aliases situations who brought him condolences — and has narrowed his life down to things that matter astir to him.

“I person this point that I’ve noticed,” Martin says. “As we age, we either go our champion selves aliases our worst selves. I’ve seen group go their worst selves and I’ve seen group who were tough, difficult group early connected go amended selves.”

In nan film, Martin puts it: “I look backmost and go, ‘What an overseas life.’ My full life was backwards.”

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP