Comedic legend Steve Martin doesn’t have many free dates on his calendar, but he made time to drop in on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Thursday night, September 28, and the two shared a rare kind of mutual admiration. In their preamble to taking the stage, Steve Martin was full of makeover tips for Stephen Colbert, recommending everything from chin “nips and tucks” to “a little hair dye” for the still dark-haired host.

In speaking of his guest, Stephen Colbert paid the highest tribute to Steve Martin, saying that he could never have managed to embody the character he portrayed on “The Colbert Report” so successfully if he had not listened to the comedy albums of Steve Martin over and over again.

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Steve Martin did a “float” to his seat with a dancer glide, and within a nanosecond, the contemporaries who both are known and appreciated as “renaissance men,” possessing affection and abilities in comedy, song, and dance, and the occasional dramatic turn, were taking turns with pokes at each other.

By the end of the night, it was Steve Martin who treated fans to a delectable bluegrass performance with his Steep Canyon Rangers. There was no doubt about who was the master musician. Stephen Colbert definitely commanded his Emmy stage with flair, but the banjo definitely belongs in Steve Martin's capable hands.

The cover says a lot

The playful back-and-forth started with the introduction of Martin and his band’s new album, titled “The Long-Awaited Album.” The musician insisted that “I wanted to give them full respect and credit,” as Colbert lifted the cover to his desk, revealing the large single portrait of Steve Martin encircled boldly, with photos of the band reduced and off to the side.

Some fun with previous “considered” album titles came next, and Steve Martin initially said that Colbert should do the reading honors because “you do comedy and I do music” now.

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The two came to an agreement to trade off reading the oh-so-clever alternatives, like “Music to Whittle To” and “Live Outside Carnegie Hall.”

Still in the stars

Steve Martin has been honored in every expression of his musical talents, including Grammy awards, Tony award nominations, and the most elite recognition of the International Bluegrass Music Association Award in 2015. His 2016 collaboration with Edie Brickell on the Broadway musical, “Bright Star” was widely acclaimed, and he has a new theatre production in the works, called “Meteor Shower.” The premise centers around two very different couples who witness a meteoric event.

As for himself, Steve Martin said he was “so done” with the eclipse hoopla, and was too busy with music. Steve Martin and Martin Short shared their own passionate kiss at Diane Keaton's American Film Institute tribute, and still have one of the most popular touring shows in the country. Martin declared that the Sleep Number bed had done wonders for their partnership on the road.

Sweet harmonies for ‘Caroline’

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers topped off the night at the talk show with the lively and too insanely detailed reflection of modern love in “Caroline.” The tune of the self-described “almost perfect boyfriend” who gets jilted in the parking lot and knows he will “look for someone who wears her hair just like you and swears a blue streak when the Tar Heels lose in the quarterfinals.” The “TMI” lyrics notwithstanding as just part of the fun, every member of the band demonstrated utter joy and immense talents from mandolin to standup bass.

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Martin is also a wizard with his banjo on his knee.

This kind of entertainment is rare and worth losing sleep to enjoy.