When Steve Martin
hosted the season finale
of Saturday Night Live
in 1989 where he followed up on his 1986 A Holiday Wish
monologue by reciting a poem
he had written in honor of the object of his affection, stating that when a man meets the woman he loves, everything changes and "suddenly all the dozens and dozens of women he's sleeping with no longer matter". Sitting on a plush couch in front of a black backdrop, Steve
held a single pink rose
in his hand and gushed forth with loving sentiment in this little ode.
Every man needs a woman, and I need you
To lift me when I am sad
To comfort me when I am down
To clean me when I am drunk
To walk beside me when I want to look like I'm not gay
To walk in front of me when I need someone to act as a human windbreak
To kiss me when I am horny
To massage me when I am tense and/or horny
To make me horny when I'm not horny,
and then to watch me fall asleep.
I need you, darling,
to clean between my toes when they are not clean to my satisfaction.
To pick the nits out of my hair when I have head lice
To try milk for me when I am not sure of the expiration date.
To be there when I need you to be there
and to be out of town the rest of the time.
My darling, although it may seem sentimental
I want to take this moment to tell you I love you,
because I don't want to lose half my stuff.
And even though you are far away across the ocean
I always have this to remind me.
Steve points to his ring finger, where he quickly notices the absence of his wedding ring
Good night, my love.
With his trademark wit and wisdom Steve Martin took something as near-clichéd as a love poem and infused it with thoughts on a relationship from the male stereotype point of view: man and woman fall in love, and woman is to take care of the man's wants and needs. From a lesser comedian/actor/poet the tone of the piece would come off as insulting, but Steve tells it as only he can and as I believe it can only be told: with a gentle wink and smile to the viewer.
The piece begins honestly enough - Steve needs his love to lift him when he is sad and to comfort him when he is down, which are things often done in good relationships - but the warm feelings begin to dissolve when he wants his lover to clean him when he is drunk and to act as a human windbreak on windy days; it can be assumed that because he specifically lists these acts in the poem, then they are acts that he requires frequently. We laugh at the ode because it is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek with respect to conventional and stereotypical roles in loving relationships (especially the lines about his love making him horny and then watching him fall asleep, because in the male stereotype of making love the man's pleasure is paramount). Incidentially, the character that Steve portrays in this piece is another example of how he typically plays "criminal" roles. I once wrote an analysis of this phenomenon (located in the Steve Martin node, by the way) about how Steve commonly portrays characters that are a bit on the shady side: con man, crooked director, would-be murderer, defective eyeglasses magnate, criminal harborer, and so forth. Judging by the content of Ode to a Woman, we can now add selfish lover to that list.
Steve's performance of this piece resurfaces in the DVD of Saturday Night Live: The Best of Steve Martin, a series of clips of the most popular Steve Martin segments and routines. This particular episode of SNL also reruns on Comedy Central as a part of the regular rotation of reruns that air daily. Good night, my love.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Steve Martin DVD