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Steve Martin honors Tina Fey with recycled joke; still gets laughs

By The Reliable Source

Steve Martin, 2010. (Marvin Joseph/TWP)

Did Steve Martin's speech at Tuesday's Mark Twain Prize sound vaguely familiar? In his tribute to Tina Fey at the Kennedy Center, Martin quipped, "It would be easy for me to stand up here for the next few minutes and talk about Tina Fey's brilliance, her wit and her accomplishments in television and film -- but this seems to be neither the time nor place."

But wait -- he used almost exactly the same joke for Paul Simon at the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors: "It would be easy for me to stand up here for the next few minutes, talk about Paul Simon's consummate skill as a songwriter and musician, but this seems to be neither the time nor place." And for Carl Reiner at the 2000 Twain prize: "I could stand up here for the next 10 minutes or so and honor Carl but...."

A little digging unearthed the same bit at last year's Grammy salute to Vince Gill, the 1999 Television Academy Hall of Fame induction for Lorne Michaels and 1995 Kennedy Center Honors for Neil Simon.

Martin's been using the joke for 15 years -- and here's the funny part: It's always a big hit with the audience.

An inside gag among professional comics? Or is Martin recycling his own jokes? "Yes, Steve is stealing from himself," his rep told us Wednesday. "It's become a kind of trademark line of his, and people seem to enjoy it. Only insiders really remember it."

Martin tells the joke at the 2002 ceremony for Paul Simon:

By The Reliable Source  | November 11, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
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I occasionally speak before smallish groups of people (rarely more than 50 or so), usually in a tributory capacity.

Even though many of the same people attend these gatherings, I never fail to get a laugh with, "You can say what you want about Joe. ... What? You're waiting for a, 'but'?"

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | November 11, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I think what's clever about recycling this joke is that he usually delivers it at various ceremonies honoring a single individual at a time. This decreases the likelihood of audience overlap, and thus also decreases the chances of the recycling getting noticed, since individual performers are likely to draw different segments of the TV viewing public.

Posted by: kingpigeon | November 11, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Since all the movies he has recently appeared in are recycled, its only fitting he tell recycled jokes as well.

Posted by: buffysummers | November 11, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Obama and his SOCIALIST minions will stop at nothing to keep Steve Martin from developing any new material.

Posted by: rcupps | November 11, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Maybe it's like the old joke, Take my wife...please. Everybody has heard it but the repetition becomes funny in itself.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | November 11, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to steal, at least steal from yourself.

Posted by: thefrontpage | November 11, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, there's 15 seconds of my life completely wasted.

Posted by: overed | November 11, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Even repeated 100 times, it's still funnier than anything Tina Fey has ever said . . .

Posted by: 7900rmc | November 11, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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