Steve Martin and Martin Short bring laughs and music to Jacobs Pavilion

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Comedic superstars - and best friends - Steve Martin and Martin Short headline a gig on Sunday, Sept. 17, that also will

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Listening to Steve Martin and Martin Short, two of the funniest, most gifted men on the planet who happen to be best friends, is like listening to a slip fight between two of the funniest, most gifted high school boys in a lunch room who happen to be best friends.

You know what a slip fight is, right? It's when you make fun of someone you love, but in a punch-in-shoulder way that makes it clear you DO love him.

Case in point: In a conference call with the two actor-comedian-musicians who will be at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica on Sunday, Sept. 17, Martin, who was at home in California, and Short, who was in his Canadian home, took turns taking shots at each other.

Martin, however, got in bigger and more frequent digs, mainly because Short doesn't have a zinger bone in his body. The sweetness that pervades all of his characters - from Ed Grimley Jr. to Jiminy Glick - is as real as it is innocent.

Even if they are a little off-base.

"I find Marty's characters too weird to do,'' said Martin, asked which of his pal's creations he'd do himself if given the chance. "I actually look at a lot of them sometimes and I think they're sick.''

Short's retort? A sweet laugh. His pal's on a roll, and there's no way he's going to get in the way.

"Steve is very loyal, and I think he is very sincere,'' said Short. "I think he's very concerned about your happiness as a friend, and we share a similar sense of humor.''

"I like Marty because he has none of those qualities,'' said Martin.

The show, which also features Martin and his banjo with the bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers, has the two friends onstage together for a while, then separately and then Martin with the band.

One part of their shared time focuses on the 1986 movie in which they and fellow "Saturday Night Live'' alumnus Chevy Chase starred: "The Three Amigos.'' The film, for those who may not recall, features three old-time bandit-fighting action stars who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a "real'' situation involving the evil El Guapo.

It's not the only movie in which Martin and Short have shared screen time - they've been paired in the "Father of the Bride'' films as well.

"We do get some people up to to play the three amigos,'' said Short, who said the pair figured that film vs. the "Father'' movies would "be a good little moment for improvising.''

It was a comment that, true to form, prompted Martin to interject with a nice little dig.

"I always have to be onstage to whisper ad-lib lines to Marty,'' Martin joked. "He can't think of anything.''

Though Martin is the one with a Grammy for music - he shared a best American roots song Grammy with Paul Simon's wife, Edie Brickell, for the tune "Love Has Come for You,'' Short also has a musical background. He got his first break in show business in a professional production of "Godspell'' in his native Canada.

"We do a fictitious number from those days of my career,'' said Short. "There's lots of song and dance - and music.''

Lots and lots of music - much of it from Martin and the Grammy-winning Rangers. The partnership just released a long-awaited album, cleverly named "The Long-Awaited Album,'' that for all intents and purposes should bring another one of the Grammy mini-Victrolas for the trophy cases of both the band and Martin.

Featuring traditional bluegrass-style tunes accented by Martin's clawhammer and three-finger style banjo and boasting typical Martin-type lyrics, especially in "Strangest Christmas Yet,'' "Angeline the Barista'' and "Santa Fe,'' the album has been drawing pre-release praise.

"'The Long-Awaited Album,' Steve Martin's new project with the North Carolina Grammy-winning group the Steep Canyon Rangers, is full of stories that mix humor and melancholy, whimsy and realism, rich characters and evocative details,'' said a review on amazon.com. "And lots of banjos. That instrument -- so dexterously, even acrobatically picked and strummed -- proves just as crucial to relating these tales as the lyrics themselves, each chord and riff revealing depths to Martin's narrators and to his musical talent.''

Steve Martin and Martin Short
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17.
Where: Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, 2014 Sycamore St., on the west bank of Cleveland's Flats.
With: Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Bobko.
Tickets: $57.50 to $115, plus fees, at the box office, online at ticketmaster.com and livenation.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

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