Pure Drivel
Steve Martin

This page:

Pure Drivel


comedy performers

index pages:

Pure Drivel

Copyright © 1998, 1999 40 Share Productions, Inc.

A Public Apology

originally published in The New Yorker

I would also like to apologize to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for referring to its members as “colored people.”



Writing Is Easy!

originally published in The New Yorker

Sometimes, it is true, agony visits the head of the writer. At these moments, I stop writing and relax with a coffee at my favorite restaurant, knowing that words can be changed, rethought, fiddled with, and, of course, ultimately denied.



Writer’s Block: A Myth

Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol. Sure a writer can get stuck for a while, but when that happens to real authors, they simply go out and get an “as told to.” [...] The other trick I use when I have a momentary stoppage is virtually foolproof, and I’m happy to pass it along. Go to an already published novel and find a sentence you absolutely adore. Copy it down in your manuscript. Usually that sentence will lead you naturally to another sentence; pretty soon your own ideas will start to flow. If they don’t, copy down the next sentence.



Changes in the Memory after Fifty

originally published in The New Yorker

One solution for older men is to take all the superflous data swirling around in the brain and download it into the newly large stomach, where there is plenty of room. This frees the brain to house relevant information, like the particularly troublesome days of the week. Another solution is to take regular doses of ginkgo biloba, an extract from a tree in Asia whose memory is so indelible that one day it will hunt down and kill all the humans that have been eating it.



The Paparazzi of Plato

originally published in The New Yorker

Tabloidus, where were you when you took the picture?

I was hiding on a rooftop. Further, I was wearing black clothing and a hood.

So you were merely protecting your privacy, while Madonna invaded your camera lens?

I cannot argue otherwise, Socrates.

But is it not wrong to spy on a woman breast-feeding her baby?

When you become a singing star, it is wrong to want your breast-feeding to be private.

But why?

Because of the public’s right to know.




Artist Lost to Zoloft

“I have actually resorted to breaking into my artists’ medicine cabinets and substituting their Zoloft with placebos, just enough for a week or two,” continued the dealer. “This sudden withdrawal sends them on a wild emotional ride. Then I call Ernie’s Artistic Supplies and have them deliver canvas, paints, and palette knives while the artists are still bouncing off the walls. Two weeks later, I get half a dozen canvases that are at least salable. Then the artists get back on the real pills, not knowing what hit them, and I start getting the Lassie-at-the-card-club stuff.”




Hissy Fit

Let us assume there is a place in the universe that is so remote, so driven by inconceivable forces, where space and time are so warped and turned back upon themselves, that two plus two no longer equals four. If a mathematician were suddenly transported and dropped into this unthinkable place, it is very likely that he would throw a hissy fit. This is exactly what happens when a New York Writer contemplates, talks about, or, worst of all, is forced to visit Los Angeles.



Los Angeles


originally published in The New Yorker

“This is not just drivel,” she exulted. “It’s pure drivel.” The butterflies in my stomach sopranoed a chorus of “Hallelujah.”

That night, we celebrated with a champagne dinner for two, and I told her that her skin was the color of fine white typing paper held in the sun and reflecting the pink of a New Mexican adobe horse barn.

The next two months were heaven. I no longer just published drivel; I was now writing it.

Closure One dollar and fifty cents. Not much, but as I stood there counting the change, realizing the mistake, I couldn’t move on. I confronted the check-out girl. “Oops,” she said. Oops? Oops? This was not closure. How was I to move on? I did not sense that the store was taking responsibility. The manager came and took me aside. He understood closure. He apologized, and took responsibility. I could move on.

text checked (see note) Sep 2008

top of page