25 Clever Steve Martin Quotes on Longing, the Art World, and Creating Characters

The man with two (amazing) brains.

Happy birthday to comedian, writer, and banjo god Steve Martin. The Pennies from Heaven and Man with Two Brains actor — not literally, though his cleverness would suggest otherwise — has impeccable comedic timing and an unparalleled ability to conjure the humor, warmth, and pathos from just about any situation. Martin’s observations on comedy, writing, art, and life are worth poring over, so we’ve collected a few of his best quotes in honor of his 71st.

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“I don’t think anyone is ever writing so that you can throw it away. You’re always writing it to be something. Later, you decide whether it’ll ever see the light of day. But at the moment of its writing, it’s always meant to be something. So, to me, there’s no practicing; there’s only editing and publishing or not publishing.”

“I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.”

“The real joy is in constructing a sentence. But I see myself as an actor first because writing is what you do when you are ready and acting is what you do when someone else is ready.”

“I did stand-up comedy for 18 years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four years were spent in wild success. I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a byproduct. The course was more plodding than heroic.”

“I loved to make people laugh in high school, and then I found I loved being on stage in front of people. I’m sure that’s some kind of ego trip or a way to overcome shyness. I was very kind of shy and reserved, so there’s a way to be on stage and be performing and balance your life out.”