Read Tina Fey’s Touching, Hilarious Tribute to Steve Martin

Tina Fey. Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/Getty

Last night at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, Steve Martin received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute from Mel Brooks. If that’s not enough to guarantee a trip to Comedy Prom, Tina Fey killed it, setting the stage for speeches by Amy Poehler, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Steve Carell, and Martin Short. In doing so, she reminded us of why she and Poehler saved the last few Golden Globes and what we’ll be missing come 2016. Fey was funny, sharp, and sincere in celebrating her Baby Mama co-star, but also treated that wild and crazy guy like a woman, commenting on his ability to juggle being a musician, actor, comedian, writer, husband, and now, in his 60s, a father. She also referenced Martin’s philanthropy, noting that he donates “all his old white suits to lesbian commitment ceremonies.” The intensely private Martin sat in the middle of the room, uncomfortably grinning from the spotlight for most of the night while his friends paid tribute.

The ceremony will be broadcast by TBS on June 13, with an encore presentation on TCM on July 30. Here’s Fey’s speech in full.

Good evening. As you can see from the end of those clips, Steve was the first rock-star comedian, playing to giant crowds and sold‑out stadiums and arenas. Let’s take a look at this Billboard chart from 1978. Steve was bigger than the Commodores … bigger than Springsteen, Elton John, and Aerosmith. By 1978, Steve had already achieved his lifelong goal of proving that music was stupid and everyone hates it. He was No. 1 at the arena box-office. And all of this was before he had ever made a movie, okay. To follow a stadium comedy career like that, with so many great movies, can only be described as a huge dropoff. Just to be sure, a devastating pay cut. He had to sell a lot of his boats. 

But Steve was committed to his new dream of being a movie guy. I remember the first time I ever saw one of Steve’s movies. It was on a plane ride here today. And the part I saw before my biscuit came, Queen Latifah was really funny. Just kidding. Of course, I’m just kidding. I’ve seen all of Steve’s movies, and I definitely did not watch it on American Airlines, and I definitely did not eat a bunch of biscuits. And, of course, The JerkRoxanne, and all of the classic comedies, but for me, Steve is never better or more appealing than when he plays a caring dad in Father of the Bride or Planes, Trains & Automobiles, that character will always be my favorite.  

And I wanted to take this weird public opportunity to tell you how much I love you in those roles, and also how much joy it brings me to know that you are a dad now. And yes, that is a patronizing thing to say, but people say dumb stuff like that to women all the time. Writing, acting, touring with his bluegrass band, and now, father. How does Steve juggle it all? 

I was lucky enough to work with Steve in a movie called Baby Mama. Anyone watch the whole thing? No. But in the film, Baby Mama, Steve and I got to film several scenes together. And I remember every minute of our time together because Steve had a two-hour door-to-door. And we would chat during the turnarounds, and he gave me so much great showbiz advice, and that’s always stuck with me. He said to me, “Amy. To be early is to be on time. [Being] on time is a sign of weakness. Never shake hands when [an] open-mouth kiss would suffice. There are no small parts, only small actors.” And then he just listed a bunch of actors under five-two. He said, “You can fix your nose or your teeth, but to do both is more money than I am willing to lend you.” He said, “It’s not show friendship. It’s Showbiz Pizza, and it’s my favorite restaurant.” He told me, “Always find a way to give back.” 

For example, Steve donates all his old white suits to lesbian commitment ceremonies. He told me, “Always be nice to the little people because then at night, they’ll sneak in and fix your shoe. You know what? Don’t bring a gun to a knife fight, just enjoy it from the stands.” Finally, he said, “If you’re going to pick up Marty Short, remember to support the neck.” 

I learned so much from you, Steve, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to know you. And you have helped me so many times and in so many ways, showing up for SNL monologues, being a guest star on our dumb TV show, marrying a woman who is, I think, a younger, thinner, smarter version of me [Anne Stringfield]. It’s an honor to be a part of this evening, and to have one of my childhood dreams come true. I’m so glad that I got this one and not the sexual one I had of Adam West as Batman. You’re a genius. You mean a tremendous great deal to me.

Read Tina Fey’s Funny Tribute to Steve Martin