Steve Martin and Martin Short: We may not be able to resist Boris Johnson jokes

By Craig Simpson, PA

Steve Martin and Martin Short may not tackle divisive politics and Brexit jokes but Boris Johnson will not be spared when they bring their live show to the UK.

The award-winning comedy stars have announced a tour of the UK and Ireland, but the stand-up duo will try to steer clear of current affairs.

They said that years in comedy have taught them to offer audiences a reprieve from relentless “points of view”, rather than preach to the right or left.

The BFI London Film Festival 2012 – Frankenweenie Premiere
Martin Short is guided by what he finds funny (Ian West/PA)

They said they would avoid Brexit, but conceded they may not be able to resist making fun of the current British Prime Minister.

US star Martin, 74, told the PA news agency: “Boris Johnson might get a couple of jokes, I mean come on. The hair-do alone.”

Short, 69, added: “His hair looks more like a wind advisory than anything else.”

The double act will not delve into Brexit on their new tour because, as Martin explained: “I don’t quite understand it.

“I learned early on that you cannot make jokes about something you can’t quite follow.”

The duo has also learned not to divide an audience through politics.

Short said: “Half your audience might be right and half your audience might be left, so you certainly don’t want to alienate anyone, or make them regret that they’ve spent the money to buy a ticket.

“I think they need a respite from it sometimes.”

Martin agreed: “I kind of want the audience to go out an think, ‘What a relief not to be assaulted with points of view’.”

Veterans of stage and screen comedy, the pair will tour the UK and Ireland with The Funniest Show In Town At The Moment, packed with gags and musical numbers.

They hope their early comic education from Beyond The Fringe and Monty Python will attune them to audiences across the Atlantic.

But the stars said they do not set out to push the limits of acceptability and never plan on being iconoclasts or making “race jokes” in their show.

Martin said: “Permissiveness has definitely loosed up. The things you can say in television are not things you could say on television when I was starting out.

On audiences potentially taking offence, he added: “I’m conscious of it. The mores are changing. They’re always expanding, inclusive of certain aspects of political correctness.

“Other things are obviously too extreme an interpretation of it.

“But we’re not out there to make race jokes.

“Our guideline is, what is funny. It’s usually funny within the context of appropriateness.

“When I started out, I felt like I was an iconoclast. But now it’s the last thing I want to do.”

The veteran stars of numerous hit films, such as Father Of The Bride, have accepted the Hollywood can be unforgiving of ageing talents, and can move the limelight away from older actors.

Short said: “Most businesses are unforgiving. There are hungry people wanting to get to your place, and take your place, and that’s kind of the way it’s always been.

“It’s hard to view ourselves as timeless. We’re doing what we think is funny.”

The Funniest Show In Town At The Moment will come to the UK and Ireland for the first time in 2020 for seven dates. Tickets go on sale on September 27.