Steve Martin served as the “very special guest” at Jerry Seinfeld‘s Beacon Theatre Thursday, a surprise appearance that marked the comedian’s first stab at stand-up in over 35 years. While Martin has continued to perform and host ceremonies like the Oscars, he hadn’t performed an actual set of stand-up comedy since 1981. That all changed Thursday when Martin delivered just under 10 minutes worth of material as Seinfeld’s opening act.
“Thank you. Jerry couldn’t make it tonight … Have a safe ride home!” Martin quipped to the shocked crowd. “Actually, I’m here tonight because of that old showbiz saying: Never lose a bet to Jerry.” As Vulture notes, Martin sat shotgun with Seinfeld in a recent episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and that run-in likely planted the seeds for Martin’s stand-up return.
“I’ll be honest with you, right off the top, because I’m a little upset with the Beacon Theatre,” Martin said during one joke. “I was backstage and I used the restroom. And there was a sign that read, ‘Employees must wash hands.’ And I could not find one employee to wash my hands.” Martin also treated the crowd to his talents on the banjo before Seinfeld himself came onstage to alert his opening act that it was time for the headliner.
During the question-and-answer portion of the Beacon show, Seinfeld’s second of a yearlong residency at the famed venue, he asked the crowd to give Martin another round of applause and called the surprise performance “the thrill of my career.”
Martin, a prolific presence on social media, has not yet commented on his return to stand-up.