Time Out New York, July 27, 2006
Hot Seat: Martin Short
The alter-ego maniac tries a little pseudo-tenderness on Broadway.
By Bruce Kluger
could be harnessed for evil intent, Martin
Short would be officially designated a
weapon of mass destruction. Schooled in the
fabled comic climes of Canada, Short shot to
fame on SCTV in 1982, then charted an up-
only trajectory that has included a legendary
stint on Saturday Night Live, deliciously weird
film roles (e.g., Father of the Bride), off-the-
wall TV specials and intermittent returns to
Broadway (his performance in 1998’s Little
Me earned him a Tony).
But the impish 56-year-old song-dance-and-shtick man is best known for the
bizarre characters he has created along the way—from the lethally cowlicked
manchild Ed Grimley to the fat-suited, unctuous celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick.
Short’s latest incarnation, however, might be his most challenging: He plays himself.
Well, sort of.
Your new Broadway show, Fame Becomes Me, sends up the angst-ridden,
spill-all, autobiographical confessional. Explain.
Under the pressure of modern-day entertainment, people just getting up and
performing isn’t enough. We need the pain. We need our reality television with
everything. It’s like the Olympics. We used to be happy just watching the guy run
around the field and getting the medal. Now we also have to see video of his
second cousin’s flirt with gingivitis. So in Fame Becomes Me, I find my pain.
Is there a personal scandal from your past that you don’t reveal in the
Cannibalism. It just seemed wrong for the Wednesday-matinee crowd.
You suck face with a costarlet onstage. How does this go down with your
She gets to watch, so I don’t see what the problem is.
Your friend Billy Crystal got a Tony for his one-man Broadway show, 700
Sundays. Are you feeling the pressure to top that?
No—I’m shooting for a daytime Tony.
You revealed on Inside the Actors Studio that your favorite curse word is
"poo." That's shocking.
Truthfully, [the host] wanted me to say shit. The big thing on Inside the Actors
Studio is, “Oh my God! Julia Roberts said 'motherfucker'!” So I played against it and
went with "poo."
We hear that your greatest nightmare as a comedian is being handed a red
clown nose at a photo shoot, then being told to improvise.
Right, it’s the bane of existence for anyone in comedy. “The photograph must be
funny!” So the people coordinating the shoot throw rubber chickens at you, 20 at a
time. Or put a feathered hat on you. Or give you a clown nose. Of course, all of this
makes you depressed, so you wind up looking more like you’re promoting A Long
Day’s Journey Into Night.
Let’s talk about your alter egos. Who would make a better director of
homeland security—Ed Grimley or Jiminy Glick?
I’d go with Glick because I think he’d clean up that whole color-alert thing.
[Suddenly, as Glick] “I mean, you’re blue one day, and orange another—but what if
you’ve gotten the days mixed up? What if you’re wearing blue and you’re not as
accessorized as you were with orange? It just does not work!”
Whatever became of Ed Grimley?
He lives in a retirement home in New Jersey. It’s called the Retirement Home in New
Jersey for Characters Who Were Interesting in the ’80s for About an Hour. He’s
there with the Whiners, Gumby and Jon Lovitz’s “That’s the ticket” guy.
You’re among a group of stars—Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp—known for
being genuinely nice. How do you swing that?
The secret to staying nice in show business is that you can’t take it personally,
because it can drive the nicest person insane. There’s no job like this. If you work
in, say, a dentist’s office, no one’s going to write a review of how you stink at giving
root canals. So if you treat it like a business and not let yourself be defined by it,
you can keep your potential niceness.
Now that the show’s in New York, you have to commit to a baseball team.
So who is it—the Yanks or the Mets?
The Mets. But I’ll suck up to anybody if they love me.