Steve Martin and Martin Short will not be exactly latest to the tv business: Steve Martin won an Emmy Award back in 1969 for his work as a author on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” and Short has won two Emmys through the years, including one in 1983 for his work on “SCTV.”
Before Tuesday, they’d been nominated for nearly two dozen Primetime Emmys combined, for work that included the Academy Awards (which Martin has hosted and written for), the FX drama “Damages” (on which Short played a sinister right-hand man to a Bernie Madoff type), and their 2018 variety special “Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Remainder of Your Life.” (Short has also received nominations for the Daytime Emmys.)
Now they’ve added latest filigrees to their careers: Short and Martin each received Emmy nominations for his or her lead acting roles within the Hulu comedy “Only Murders within the Constructing.”
Within the series, which alternates between broad farce and dark comedy, Martin plays a once-famous TV actor and Short plays a never-that-great Broadway director who live in the identical Renaissance-style constructing in Manhattan. With the assistance of an enigmatic young neighbor (Selena Gomez), they fight to resolve against the law of their residence — or at the very least parlay the mystery into a preferred podcast. (Martin, who created “Only Murders within the Constructing” with John Hoffman, also received a nomination within the comedy writing category, and the show received 17 nominations overall.)
Short and Martin are longtime friends and collaborators (dating back to the 1986 comedy “Three Amigos!”). So you’ll think they could be pleased for one another’s success and excited to compete for Emmy honors. But their feelings are perhaps more complex. They spoke together in a video interview on Tuesday; these are edited excerpts from that conversation.
“Only Murders within the Constructing” was recognized repeatedly today. How does it feel?
STEVE MARTIN Well, we’re thrilled. We’re thrilled on the nominations, not just for us but for the show. We’re dismayed that Selena was not nominated because she’s so crucial to our performances, really.
MARTIN SHORT She is nominated as an executive producer.
You each have storied histories as TV nominees —
MARTIN I don’t. Marty does.
SHORT Steve, let’s do our joke from the show. Hey, Steve, what number of Emmys do you could have again?
MARTIN [thinking] Oh, I would like to say five. [pause] Well, I would like to say five, but I even have one. If I were to win, I could be on a roll. Because that may be 53 years since my last win.
SHORT Gee, I’d hate to see what you seem like by the point you get your third win. I’ve won twice.
Who is that this a much bigger honor for?
MARTIN Oh, definitely Marty.
SHORT I’d say that if I weren’t nominated, I’d go to Vegas and wager $100,000 that Steve would win. But we are likely to think that we split the vote a little bit.
MARTIN It’s a giant honor for everyone. Because two years ago, we weren’t working.
SHORT To think that, after I was a child, there was prime-time: ABC, NBC and CBS. And now you could have a billion shows — so many who I’m told by my family are only good and I even have not seen. To thrive in that sort of era is pretty great.
MARTIN Also, I feel that the comedy acting category must be divided in two, for Overly Broad and Way Too Subtle. So regardless of the nominations are, you could have subcategories. Marty could win Overly Broad, and I could win Way Too Subtle.
SHORT You possibly can be in your personal category, which is Too Pale to Actually Light.
MARTIN After they’re doing a close-up on Marty, they use me as a bounce board.
Have you ever ever been in direct competition before?
SHORT Just emotionally.
MARTIN Every minute of day-after-day.
Martin, that is the primary continuing series that you could have been involved with for some time; Steve, that is your first continuing series ever. Is there any way by which you’re feeling like rookies?
MARTIN I used to be surprised, I assumed the shooting could be quite different. I assumed it will be two takes and you progress on, and two takes more and you progress on. But no, it’s identical to a movie. We’re shooting five hours in 12, 14 weeks. A movie is 2 hours in 10 weeks.
The second season of “Only Murders within the Constructing” has devoted story lines and episodes to characters aside from yours. How do you’re feeling about stepping back or receding from the series when you want to?
MARTIN We adore it. I learned that from “The Jack Benny Show,” that he was all the time stepping back for other talents, and I’m grateful. I do know Marty isn’t, but I’m grateful when a extremely talented person is available in and does their thing. We had Nathan Lane, he’s nominated. Jane Lynch, who’s nominated. Amy Ryan, unfortunately not nominated, but she deserved it.
SHORT James Caverly was good. I got here from ensemble [on “SCTV”], so I used to be used to it. If John Candy had a fantastic thing to do, you step back.
MARTIN It’s funny, since you say you got here from an ensemble, but today you’d never realize it.
SHORT My thing is, I’m uninterested in ensemble. And you already know what helped me on this one? I used to be fed up with working with equals.
MARTIN Well, that might be interpreted only a technique.
Are you going to find a way to support one another on Emmys night? Or will it get cutthroat? Will it’s each man for himself?
MARTIN I suggested to Marty that he withdraw, but he doesn’t say why. It’s only a mystery. After which he starts a whisper campaign that it’s because I even have a fatal disease.
SHORT Steve told me this last night, and I said: “I don’t quite understand. It seems to service you greater than me.”
MARTIN I said he comes off like a hero. He’s stepping back for his friend.
SHORT So if this all happened, and also you’re sitting there and also you hear, “And the winner is — Bill Hader,” what do you do?
MARTIN [leaping up from his seat] I’m well!
I believe that plan can be received in the proper spirit.
SHORT I don’t think that was too bad.
MARTIN Nothing is received in the proper spirit. I tweeted a photograph the opposite day. They brought me a latte, they usually can do these fancy designs — it had my picture on it. I assumed, that is amazing, I’m going to tweet this. Then there’s one response that claims, “For those who had tweeted this two years ago, I’d have enjoyed it, but now I can’t even afford a latte. [Expletive] you.”
SHORT Please put that in. That symbolizes every thing.