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Martin’s most important audience

Steve Martin could never satisfy his dad, says Emma Brockes in the London Guardian. The comedian was a performer from an early age; as a teenager, he did magic tricks up to 12 hours a day at Disneyland, near his California home. But his father was unimpre

Steve Martin could never satisfy his dad, says Emma Brockes in the London Guardian. The comedian was a performer from an early age; as a teenager, he did magic tricks up to 12 hours a day at Disneyland, near his California home. But his father was unimpressed. In retrospect, Martin thinks he was driven to perform by a need to get his attention. “Bad psychoanalysis would say I enjoyed pleasing people, which is probably related to my father in some way,” he says. Martin also thinks that his father, a frustrated actor who ended up in real estate, was secretly jealous. “I don’t think I really blame him; I think he was under duress when I was an adolescent. I think he found himself in a place he didn’t want to be.” In the 1970s, Martin developed into the most successful stand-up comedian in the country. Still, he couldn’t win the approval of his old man, who dismissed his work as silly. When one of his friends praised his performance in his first movie, The Jerk, the elder Martin replied, “Well, he’s no Charlie Chaplin.” On his deathbed, Martin’s father finally told his son he loved and admired him. “You did everything I wanted to do,” his father said. Martin replied, “I did it for you.” He admits today his response was incomplete. “I didn’t say the more complicated truth, I did it because of you.”

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