Steve Martin Uses Urban Legend to Make Us Laugh

meteor pic astro blogWe’ve all heard the saying “there must be a full moon” or, at least, some version of it. Whether there’s any scientific truth to it or not, most of us seem content to continue this prevalent idea that astronomical events cause ‘strange’ things to happen. Sure, a full moon can cause more extreme tides making storm flooding more severe. Solar flares hurdling at Earth have the potential in extreme cases to mess with satellite communications and the power grid (and, of course, there’s that whole theory about a giant asteroid impact causing the extinction of the dinosaurs). But none of these have anything to do with altering human behavior, which is really the common effect this urban legend has taught us to connect to stellar phenomenon. Think about it for a second. From stories of medical professionals who claim individuals with mental illness tend to be more unstable during full moons to police forces that schedule more officers on duty during full moons because they predict a higher likelihood for crime, this unproven idea of our behavior mysteriously being connected to celestial happenings is often reinforced to us.

This idea has become a great device for writers. How about the character of the werewolf? That’s probably one of the most enduring examples of it. Modern horror and sci-fi novelist and screenwriters obviously employ it regularly, but even Shakespeare liked to make references to the idea (“It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad.” – Othello) It’s really nothing new. Usually in these instances this device is used to propel the story into suspenseful, mysterious, horrific, or even tragic territory. However, some clever writers have seen the humorous potential in this supernatural idea. After all when most of us make those connections between strange occurrences and astronomical events it’s usually laced with a laugh and an undertone of playfulness.

In that vein did Steve Martin write his newest comedy Meteor Shower. Of course, Martin has his own unique brand of humor. He doesn’t just make a playful nod to a meteor shower possibly causing people to act oddly; he delivers an all-out absurdist night for a very unsuspecting couple (and audience, for that matter). But then what else would you expect from the guy who asked what would happen if Picasso and Einstein met in a bar, and then threw in an appearance by Elvis at the end. (Sorry to have spoiled it for any of you unlucky few who didn’t see our 2014 production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile.) Steve Martin uses this classic writing device to create a play so hilariously brand new it could only have come from his genius mind. We invite you to this world premiere comedy to kick off our 52nd season. And if you’re looking for the most absurd performance to tickle your funny bone, might we suggest attending Meteor Shower during a full moon?

-Kimberly Shepherd

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