Above all, Short is very funny. He has never carried a hit movie or created a long-running sitcom. Yet those who have done precisely these things regard him with delight and something resembling awe. He is the funniest guy I know. Everybody loves Marty. Indeed, Short is not only nice but good, a man who has things so figured out that he offers uplift—whose benign but mischievous presence, once experienced, is thereafter craved.
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Please hurry! He was wearing a dark suit and white dress shirt; not for Short the stubble and dishevelment of off-duty Colin Farrell. The hair was neatly cut but tousled, underscoring his preternatural and, to all appearances, unenhanced youthfulness at the age of When I brought up this subject with him, he playfully invited me to inspect behind his ears for surgical scars.
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There was a small table between the chairs for our wineglasses. Short had effectively set us up for our own little talk show. And things proceeded in a manner not unlike a talk show. And this, mind, was well before the wine had kicked in. I want to talk to Ed! Ed, what is wrong with him? Dolman died of ovarian cancer in the summer of —a sad fact that last May drew greater attention than it might have otherwise when Kathie Lee Gifford, interviewing Short on Today, asked about Dolman in the present tense, unaware of her death a year and a half earlier.
Short deflected the gaffe gracefully, and Gifford was duly crestfallen and apologetic when she realized her mistake. The Short household, when it was whole, was a sort of real-life, latter-day version of the TV household in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: a tidy, pleasantly arrayed Southern California domestic space that people were drawn to because a happy, stable nuclear family lived there. Even now, Chez Short is comfortingly familial, with a driveway full of bicycles for pedaling down to the ocean and walls and tables covered with framed photographs of Marty, Nancy, and their three children, now all in their 20s.
The Shorts bought the place in She appeared in the kitchen before bedtime wearing polka-dot pajamas, as if it just as easily could have been , when she was nine. So life is normal.
But he has come to grips with being a widower without pretending to love it. In , when Short was 12, the eldest of his brothers, David, was killed in a car accident. By the time he was 21, both of his parents were dead, his mother, Olive, succumbing to breast cancer, and his father, Charles, to complications from a stroke.
He likened himself to Stephen Colbert, who, as a boy, lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash.
Martin Short, In Conversation
That day when I was a kid, I was scared. He grew up the youngest of five children in Hamilton, Ontario, where his violinist mother was the concertmistress for the local philharmonic and his father was an executive at Stelco, a large steel company. Short attended McMaster University, in Hamilton, earning a degree in social work. While at college, he made friends with two fellow theater enthusiasts named Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas. Godspell was the latter: the stories from the Gospels as told by clowns—a very earlys idea, but, hey, it worked.
Levy, too, passed the audition. The Toronto production has since acquired legendary status in Godspell circles, comedy-nerd circles, and Canadian-history circles for the amazing concentration of homegrown talent it launched: not only the future SCTV -ers Short, Levy, and Andrea Martin but also the future S. Thomas, another future SCTV stalwart, joined the cast partway through its run. The show allowed a lot of room for interpretation and improvisation. Though all of these performers have since become well known, they were, by and large, provincial young Canadians at the time, with no idea of how truly good they were.
Shaffer was the first of the Godspell group to move on to success in the wider world, when he was tapped in to move to New York to join the pit band of another Schwartz musical, The Magic Show, constructed around the shaggy Canadian illusionist Doug Henning. When Short and Radner broke up, he fell almost immediately into a relationship with another of the Godspell gang: Dolman, an understudy whom he found forbiddingly beautiful.
They made a date to play tennis—July 8, —and remained partners ever after.
I asked Short if it is correct to assess him as a boomer-era comic who, even as those around him were aiming to be naughty and subversive, was not rebelling against anything. Short seldom lacked work, but he existed in a parallel universe to that of his friends and contemporaries, who now included not only the Godspell alums but such other Canadian comic performers as John Candy, Joe Flaherty, and Dan Aykroyd. Steinberg, though only a few years older than the Second City upstarts, was a Canadian-comedy god to them, having made it in the U.
In , Short had what qualifies as his one true dark night of the soul. He and Dolman were visiting Los Angeles while she, a singer as well as an actress, looked for a record deal. Shaffer, now the linchpin of the Saturday Night Live band, happened to be in town, staying at the Sunset Marquis.
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He invited Short and Dolman to join him and Bill Murray for dinner. I was feeling like that guy who just has to fake happiness and excitement for everybody. I cannot spend an evening with Bill and Paul.
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Steve Martin on why he’s back on the road with Martin Short
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