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18 best jokes from Steve Martin' AFI Life Achievement ceremony

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Steve Martin was honored on Thursday night at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre with the AFI Life Achievement Award. “I am so proud to have this honor,” Martin said to close out the star-studded evening. “I want to thank the AFI for having a short name to engrave on silver gift boxes. Saved me a lot of money.”

Jokes masking gratitude defined most guests’ speeches. Going up against a comic genius—a term Martin defined as “someone who decides never to go into comedy”—demanded sharp material. Fortunately, stars like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Conan O’Brien were there to make is lol-y. Here are the best jokes we heard from Martin’s contemporaries and friends in between their praise for Steve Martin.

1. “Good evening, I’m ‘Women in Comedy’s’ Amy Poehler. We’ve had some fun so far and a lot of laughs, but now it’s time to remember why we’re all here, which is to raise money for FIFA… and to support the new president of FIFA, Queen LaFIFA.” —Amy Poehler

2. “One afternoon, Marty [Short] and I were in Diane [Keaton’s] trailer. Diane was watching the O.J. Simpson trial; she was fixated by it. Marty and I were clowning around in the back. And finally, she turned and said. ‘If you two don’t shut up, I’m going to blow you!’ And Marty said, ‘Diane, you have to work on your threats.'” —Steve Martin

3. “I wanted to take this weird public opportunity tell you how much I love you in [father] roles, and also how much joy it brings me to know you’re a dad now in real life. Yes, that is a patronizing thing to say, but people say dumb stuff like that to women all the time.” —Tina Fey

4. “I first met Steve when I was a writer at Saturday Night Live, and I will never forget his first words to me: ‘I said decaf!’ Then he shoved me out of the way and said, ‘Madam, move aside!’ I knew then we would become friends in 18 years.” —Conan O’Brien 

5. “He told me, ‘always find a way to give back.’ For example, Steve donates all his old white suits to lesbian commitment ceremonies.” —Fey

6. “Steve Martin started as a young boy turning tricks at Disneyland. That doesn’t sound right, let me rephrase that. Steve Martin worked in a magic shop at Disneyland, and then after work, he would stand in the parking lot offering to pleasure strange men.” —Martin Short

7. “Steve Martin told me one of his fondest memories was strolling through Disneyland with ‘Uncle Walt’ and playing Walt’s favorite game of ‘Jew or Not a Jew.’ ” —Short

8. “But I tell you, brother. Can you imagine if we talked to women now like we did back then? We would be arrested for multiple violations of state and federal law!” —Dan Aykroyd, in Festrunk Brothers’ voice

9. “[Steve] is a real person. A real, stiff, awkward, aloof person, but a person—standoffish. It reminds me of that old saying: ‘You should never meet Steve Martin.’ ” —Sarah Silverman

10. “Steve is really self-conscious about maintaining his slim physique. He’s been on Jenny Craig more times than Mr. Craig.” —Short

11. “Usually when I hear white people playing banjos, it’s time for me to get the hell out.” —Queen Latifah

12. “I’m often asked—actually, I’m never asked, but it’s a great transition—what was it like being inside Steve’s head?” —Lily Tomlin

13. “Fifty dollars! Who said that? [beat] Oh, it’s up in the balcony: You don’t have that money.” —Poehler, fake auctioning Martin

14. “If there was a Mt. Rushmore of comedy, I would gladly let them chisel Steve Martin’s face next to mine. Me, Steve, Rob Schneider, and Teddy Roosevelt; that would be fantastic.” —O’Brien

15. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism. Well, I have spent the majority of my life doing a pale imitation of Steve Martin, and I resent him for that. The Jerk was the story about an awkward man-child who eventually finds his special purpose. I stole this idea and made it into The 40-Year-Old Virgin. …  And Roxanne is pretty much Foxcatcher.” —Steve Carell

16. “I’m going to do this quickly, because my Uber is waiting. You know how testy Randy Quaid can get.” —Short

17. “When everyone was asleep, I had a secret place, and on the wall hung a mirror, and I would look at my reflection and say, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the funniest Jew of all?’ It would say, ‘Are you kidding? You’re Mel Brooks. No contest.'” —Mel Brooks

18. “When I got the call from Bob Daly, telling me I was being honored with this award, I said, ‘Bob, I am way too high to deal with this right now.’ ” —Martin

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