Six days before the Steve Martin debacle at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, the comedian gave a delightful reading from his new novel, An Object of Beauty, at the Union Square Barnes & Noble.
"Mr. Martin is here tonight as an author," Barnes & Noble events coordinator Maria Celis told the standing room-only crowd of hundreds prior to the reading. She advised fans that Martin would only be signing books -- no comedy records, no VHS copies of The Jerk, no 8 x 10 glossy photographs -- although there were no restrictions on the Q&A period.
While Celis let the audience at Barnes & Noble know what to expect, it seems that not even the interviewer at the Y knew what was the ground rules for the November 29th event were. "I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it's like to host the Oscars or appear in 'It's Complicated' with Alec Baldwin," Deborah Solomon said about her interview with Martin at the 92nd Street Y.
Based on the audience questions asked at the Barnes & Noble event, fans weren't as interested in Martin's day job as an actor as the Y programmers may have assumed. Although a few fans asked about his television and film career during the no-holds-barred Q&A period following his 15-minute reading, most audience questions were about his literary career and his interest in the art world.
Martin's enthusiasm for his work was infectious, and it came as a total surprise to me when I read about the "disastrous" discussion about his book and the art world at the 92nd Street Y that resulted in the Y offering refunds. No one complained or demanded a refund at the Barnes & Noble reading -- although, to be fair, it was free (the 92nd Street Y event cost $50).
Still, when I asked Martin via Twitter if he had any plans to offer a refund of some type for those who had attended the free Barnes & Noble event, he tweeted back, "I will erase my signature from signed books."
Hmmmm... I think I'll hold onto my signed copy of Shopgirl.
Photo Credits: Andrew Shaffer.