Steve Martin, Martin Short returning to Las Vegas Strip

Steve Martin and Martin Short (Mark Seliger)

Steve Martin and Martin Short have changed their show significantly over the years, but not in ways you would readily notice.

“We’ve got a new closing, we got a new encore, we’ve got some new bits, we’ve got new jokes, and I’ve got a couple of new songs,” Martin says. “But we change it incrementally. We don’t do like, ‘OK, let’s start from the top and write a whole new show.’ We are not that smart.”

Martin is referring to the duo’s “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today!” shows Friday and Saturday at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. This is the latest version of the comedy-music act they’ve performed now for more than a decade, including stops at The Mirage, The Smith Center and the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Jeff Babko is back on piano, with the bluegrass band Alison Brown & The Fair Weather Friends as special guests. Expect a visit from Short’s “Stepbrother to Jesus” character. Also be ready for a Jiminy Glick revival, with Martin playing Short like a ventriloquist figure.

Martin will also show off his musical virtuosity, and display his many banjos, a practice he says is “one big ego trip.”

The veteran iconic comic actors also have a hit on Hulu with “Only Murders in the Building,” with co-star Selena Gomez, which premieres its second season Tuesday.

Highlights from our recent phone chat:

Johnny Kats: I have to start with a refresher for Mr. Short. I’m the one who joined you onstage several years ago to play you as bagpipes. We did three shows at The Mirage.

Martin Short: Oooh! I totally remember it, yes.

Steve Martin: Amazing. The bagpipes has been one of the funniest bits in the show. It remains one of the funniest bits in the show.

I’m interested in you two as a team, and I’ll frame the question this way: I had known Jerry Lewis very well in his later years, and he often returned to his years with Dean Martin. He loved Dean. He was always proud of that partnership and happy to revisit that time. Do you guys identify yourselves as a partnership in that way, now that you’ve been doing these live dates and the Hulu series?

Martin Short: I think that is true. I think we go together like Florida and a back tattoo. Now we are a team, right.

Steve Martin: It’s funny, I don’t think of us as partners, like we do everything together. We still have independent things that we do, and we do two things together. We do a live show and we do this television show, which sort of, you know, developed from the live show. That’s why I thought of Marty because I thought, “Well, why not Marty for this? He would be great.”

Marty has done his one-man show Las Vegas, with Jeff on piano. Steve, would you be amenable to doing solo appearances in Las Vegas?

Martin: I wouldn’t. It’s adding a lot of work to do a solo spot, and have to write new material.

Short: You want to think about it, Steve? Your mind seems pretty set on this. You want to think about it?

Martin: Nope!

Steve, you played the Hilton in your first show here, right?

Martin: I did, I opened for Ann-Margret. I remember she was great and that was the worst room for comedy I’ve ever played. Big theater, right?

Yep, it was Elvis’ theater.

Martin: Did they demolish it? I thought they demolished it.

No, still there as the Westgate. Barry Manilow’s headlining there.

It was such a long time ago, about 1973. She was just great, I can tell you that.

I want to ask you about the Hulu series, especially how Selena Gomez was cast.

Martin: Originally it was three older guys as the main characters. Then suggested a young woman, we immediately went, “Oh, yeah. I get that. It’s a good, funny idea.”

Short: The first person they said was Selena Gomez. We said, “Yeah, we love her,” and then we did a reading. She was fantastic. There was no question we wanted her.

Was there an older person in mind to join you two in the cast?

Martin: No. They didn’t even have me and Marty in mind. We just talked about it. I was telling them the idea, and they said, “Would you play it?” I said, “Well, I’ll do it if Marty does it,” thinking that he wouldn’t want to do it.

Short: Oh! (Laughing.) That is it! Right!

Martin: So there we are.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.