The Y Will Refund Your Ticket to That Steve Martin Q&A

by Liz Colville

Deborah Solomon is the curious lady with the interview column in the New York Times Magazine, where she is now sure to say her interviews are “conducted, edited and condensed” after it was revealed a few years ago that she took liberties with the structure and order of her Q&As.; Now she’s under fire again, this time for a non-Times thing: a Steve Martin Q&A; at the 92nd Street Y, which was apparently so bad the Y is offering attendees a full refund of their $50 tickets.

Martin has a new book out, a novel called An Object of Beauty, and at the event last Sunday night, Solomon chose to ask him mostly questions related to art, the subject of the book. But halfway through, Y officials passed Solomon a note asking her to talk more about his career in acting. Apparently viewers watching the event from afar sent in numerous e-mails telling the Y that “the evening was not going the way they wished, meaning we were discussing art,” Martin told the Times.

Solomon, who in her Times gig seems to enjoy making her subjects a bit uncomfortable (and why not, I guess), read the note aloud, which provoked cheers from the audience. But she said she was “appalled” to hear the Y would be offering people full refunds. Martin specifically chose Solomon, an old friend of his, for the task, and “the Y never told me what they wanted,” she told the Times, of all publications, in an interview yesterday. “Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York, at the 92nd Street Y, would be interested in hearing about art and artists,” she added. Nope. Not interested.

I have to agree with her about the refund. Conversation is organic! But honestly, every time I read a Solomon interview in the Times, it’s like she instantly reverses my caffeine-induced Sunday morning glee and turns it into a simple, straightforward hangover. But sometimes the questions are so odd and confrontational that they’re funny, like this, from an interview Solomon did with Laurie David recently:

Your critics might find it paradoxical that you are prescribing family togetherness when in fact you’re a single mom who a few years back divorced the comedian Larry David.
Just because you’ve been divorced doesn’t mean you’re not still a family. Larry and I are really good friends.

Do you still see yourself as an environmental activist?
Of course. All the environmental issues I care about cross the dinner plate. For example, the factory farming of meat is a big contributor to global-warming pollution, which is why I advocate meatless Mondays.

Won’t all your cooking make the planet hotter?
That’s a crazy question. The kitchen is the best room in your house to lower your family’s carbon footprint and eat great while you are doing it.