When conversation flags

Steve Martin was a guest at the 92nd Y in NYC this week to talk about his new book, An Object of Beauty, a novel that centers around the art world, so it was no surprise that the conversation focused on art. Turns out, though, that no one wanted to hear about the art world. Apparently, the attendees wanted to hear funny anecdotes from his Parenthood days or what it was like to make out with Meryl Streep.

A Times article describes how in the middle of the interview, organizers passed a note to interviewer Deborah Solomon asking her to broaden the discussion (Ask him about Bowfinger!); the Y even sent out email to ticket holders the next day apologizing for the dull discussion and offering a refund. Ouch.

Granted, if I had paid $50 for the event, I’d like to feel the evening had value, but was it really worth humiliating Martin and his interviewer, essentially saying: you were boring. Conversations are just that. They’re unscripted and ebb and flow by nature. Not every conversation is scintillating (see: dating); not every conversation is as revealing as those clips on TMZ. The guy wrote a novel about the art world, and you’re attending a talk in New York City that—shocker—may delve into the art world. Can you at least try to live up to the cosmopolitan image of New Yorkers and pretend to care about art?

For those of you who do appreciate art and Martin’s take on it, he was just interviewed by Charlie Rose (another conversation about art . . . yikes!), which I found interesting. Note to those who attended the discussion at the Y: don’t bother; you’ll be bored—and Charlie Rose does not issue refunds.

Steve Martin, all artsy

Update: Steve Martin wrote a piece in the Times in response to the Y’s shenanigans and you can read it here thanks to my alert blogger friend, Kim.


3 thoughts on “When conversation flags

  1. Hmm … it’s too bad that Steve got pigeonholed by his audience.

    Apparently, something similiar happened to Ian McKellan when he played King Lear in Brooklyn; whenever he took questions from the audience, everybody asked him about “Lord of the Rings.”

    I look forward to the time when I become a famous author, yet everybody keeps asking me about Floating Dweebs and my Amazon.com product reviews.

    • B-Dog, I must tell you that I’ll be that person who hounds you about Floating Dweebs because it’s entertaining; how could a novel compare?

      Kim, you’re awesome. Thank you for telling me about the article. I love the Martin.

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