Martin Short and Steve Martin thrilled capacity crowds at two live performances Sunday at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Sometime between the start of the first show and the end of the second people started emailing me going, “Did I just see Mara Davis on the stage of the Fox? Yes. Yes, you did. Here’s how that came together.
In short, their people called her people. OK, their people called her.
“In every town they have a local personality bring them champagne,” Davis said of the guys’ multi-city tour, which stopped in Atlanta this weekend. “They knew they were looking for a media personality. They called and said ‘are you interested in a celebrity opportunity?’ They said ‘I’m not sure what you’ll be doing but it’ll be with Steve Martin and Martin Short.’ I didn’t know what I was doing but it didn’t matter.”
And so Davis, a longtime local broadcaster who’s recently been heard on WABE, reported for duty.
“The show started at 2. They had me get there at 1. I walked in and Martin Short was just walking around. He said ‘Are you here to do my makeup?’ I said, ‘I probably could but no, I’m not your artist.'”
Her actual marching orders involved delivering champagne toward the end of the show. With no lines to rehearse yet time to kill, it would have been tempting to swoop in for a selfie. Ever the pro, Davis kept her cool.
“I didn’t say anything to those guys,” she said. “They were getting in performance mode and I didn’t want to wreck that.”
My colleague Liz Miniet was among the fans in the audience. Her paraphrased recollections:
After an intro of film clips the two came on stage, and started with a jocular back-and-forth.
“You look like a coloring book that hasn’t been colored yet,” Short said.
Quipped Martin: “Martin Short” is the name I use when I check into a hotel so no one will bother me.”
Short jokingly dubbed the event the “if we had saved, we wouldn’t be here” tour.
Martin played banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers; at one point Short showed up in drag to exaggerate the song’s storyline.
Short’s musical bit included some piano-top musings (including showing off his colorful socks), then some remembrances of his dad (who drank a bit much and spoke quite bluntly).
There was also a section where the two sat down and exchanged stories, including the time Short met Frank Sinatra and the time Martin attempted to elude paparazzi on St. Barts by staging awful photos.
After Davis brought out the champagne the duo noted Prince’s recent concert at the Fox and toasted him.
On Monday, Davis said the experience was a most memorable one.
“I just sort of did my thing,” she said. “The first time I did it I was a little nervous. The best part is people were cheering for me!”
Since her bit came at the end she had the best possible seat, twice, for nearly the entire show.
“It was so exciting to watch the show from back stage,” she said. “As much comedy as it is it’s very serious, watching them making their marks, the timing. It was a fun, fast-paced show.”
There’s no question what her favorite part was: “Sitting next to Steve Martin while he was tuning his banjo. It was so out of body. For me it was really special. I don’t take that for granted.”