Innovative comic, actor, and author Steve Martin has delighted audiences and influenced comedians for decades. Known originally for his surreal stand-up comedy, he stood apart from other performers by relying less on setups and punchlines and instead showcasing his “wild and crazy” style and imaginative writing — always with a healthy dose of silliness that endeared him to fans.
After getting his start in standup, Martin went on to star in beloved films including 1979’s The Jerk, 1986’s Three Amigos, and 1991’s Father of the Bride. Along with his 57-year career as a performer, Martin has achieved success as a writer, penning plays, New Yorker pieces, and books, such as his acclaimed memoir Born Standing Up. His unique blend of slapstick comedy and prolific humor writing has made him a national treasure, honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and an array of other accolades, including five Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and the AFI Life Achievement Award.
The 77-year-old has continued to cement his legacy as co-creator of the 2021 comedy mystery series Only Murders in the Building, which he co-stars with Selena Gomez and his frequent collaborator and fellow legend Martin Short. In celebration of the comedy icon, these are some of Steve Martin’s wittiest and most incisive quotes.
I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks.
Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
It is not the big events that hurt the most but rather the smallest questionable shift in tone at the end of a spoken word that can plow most deeply into the heart.
Some people have a way with words, and other people… oh, uh, not have way.
Thankfully, perseverance is a great substitute for talent.
Be so good they can't ignore you.
I understood that as much as I had resisted the outside, as much as I had constricted my life, as much as I had closed and narrowed the channels into me, there were still many takers for the quiet heart.
It's pain that changes our lives.
Those French! They have a different word for everything.
All I've ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work.
I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change one word. The word they didn't change was on page 87.
I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.
Photo credit: Aaron Rapoport/ Corbis Historical via Getty Images