Their stage show dubbed Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t, revolves in part around the pair taking good natured shots at each other in the time-honoured fashion of, say, Abbott and Costello or Morecambe and Wise.
But does it ever go too far?
“I don’t ever remember an instance of that because there would be no instinct to do it,” says Short.
And at a time where public discourse – especially in the US – is nastier and more ill-tempered than ever, there is a gentleness to the show as the pair reminisce and riff on each other and their friendship.
“We don’t really go to angry places,” says Martin, star of hits including Roxanne, LA Story and Father Of The Bride.
“In stand-up there is a tendency to always push the edge,” agreed Martin. “What we are doing, there is no edge to push.”
Texas-born Martin and Canadian-born Short also mostly steer clear of material about US politics and the antics of Donald Trump.
“There are, like, five comedy shows that are extremely political and do that well,” says Martin. “We’re trying to take people away from that a little bit and just do a really funny show. Neither of us has ever really been political. We just say is this funny or is that funny – there’s no metaphysical goal.”
It’s easy to believe, watching the two doing their shtick in a recent Netflix special, An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life. It’s as tight and slick as you’d expect from two old comedy pros, but also has that vital extra element – they appear to be enjoying themselves on stage.
Is that for real?
“Sure – that’s why we do it,” says Short. “If this was drudgery we wouldn’t do it.”
Martin agrees enthusiastically.
“It’s very clear for me what I want for the audience – I want them to say this is one of the funniest shows I ever saw.”
Steve Martin and Martin Short are at Perth’s Riverside Theatre on November 8 and 9, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on November 11, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on November 13, the Melbourne Arena on November 15 and the ICC Sydney on November 17
Nick Galvin is Arts Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald