Life’s a zoo

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - JENNY HINDS

IN Mada­gas­car 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Martin Short pro­vides the voice of Ste­fano, a sea lion from a washed- up Euro­pean trav­el­ling cir­cus and a new­comer to the su­per- suc­cess­ful an­i­mated fran­chise.

If any­one has enough comic en­ergy to match the movie’s cas­cade of quips and 3D ef­fects, it’s the vet­eran Cana­dian star ( pic­tured), who’s fa­mous for his stints with SCTV and Satur­day Night Live char­ac­ters Ed Grim­ley and Jiminy Glick, movies such as Fa­ther of the Bride and, more re­cently, guest turns on Dam­ages and the sit­com How I Met Your Mother.

Short talks about the busy ca­reer that’s made him a ti­tan of com­edy and now a car­toon sea mam­mal wear­ing a clown col­lar.

What did you think of Mada­gas­car 3 when you saw it all put to­gether?

It’s amaz­ing. You do these voice ses­sions. It’s just the di­rec­tors and you, and you try dif­fer­ent things and you im­pro­vise. And you do that for about 10 ses­sions over two years. And then when you fi­nally see the film – usu­ally, when you see your­self in a movie, if it’s live ac­tion, you kind of cringe and you’re self- con­scious, right? But in this, you get lost in it, be­cause you haven’t seen the an­i­ma­tion and the an­i­ma­tion is so orig­i­nal.

How long did you have the Afro Cir­cus song ( per­formed by Chris Rock as Marty the ze­bra) stuck in your head?

Well, it’s still not shake­able. I blame Chris Rock for that. You first were no­ticed in Amer­ica on the Cana­dian sketch show SCTV. Was the se­cret to its suc­cess the fact you were able to crack each other up?

I re­mem­ber do­ing this piece called The Nutty Lab As­sis­tant where Ed Grim­ley took a po­tion and be­came John Cougar Mel­len­camp. We were shoot­ing on a stage and in the au­di­ence [ were] John Candy and An­drea Martin as two char­ac­ters. They were laugh­ing un­con­trol­lably about some­thing and I thought, that’s why the show works. Those guys have worked to­gether now for 10 years al­ready, since ’ 72. There was such a long his­tory with ev­ery­body, even be­fore the show started. Peo­ple just knew each other’s chem­istry. They trusted each other. Be­cause it was in Toronto, I don’t think there was a tremen­dous con­cern about, ‘‘ What do the net­works say?’’. The big­gest con­cern was, ‘‘ Do we think it’s funny?’’.

Re­gard­ing your SNL days in the mid1980s, what bit or char­ac­ter lives on the most on the web or in reruns?

I’d say syn­chro­nised swim­ming [ the skit where he and Harry Shearer play an in­ept male pairs team]. Syn­chro­nised swim­ming had its own life be­cause they’d show it at the Olympics, they’d show it on best- of spe­cials. It seemed to be re­peated a lot.

You played a re­ally dra­matic role on the drama Dam­ages with Glenn Close. Were you sur­prised at how well the show was re­ceived?

I was pleased with how well they do it. If you’re an ac­tor who’s also the pro­ducer and there­fore in the edit room, then you should take all the credit. If you’re an ac­tor who is giv­ing this pal­ette of paints to the artists – and the artists in that show’s case are the ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers – then they can cut it and paste you and in­clude you or not in­clude you to make you look great or make you look bad. I think they take the credit on that one.

You do elab­o­rate mu­si­cal par­o­dies when­ever you’re a guest on the Late Show with David Let­ter­man. How long do those take to de­velop and can you do any­thing you want?

There’s a bril­liant guy named Matt Roberts who’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the show and he re­ally writes those songs. I con­trib­ute a thought or two along the way. We talk about it maybe a cou­ple of weeks in ad­vance. Then he sub­mits it to me. Paul Shaf­fer will send me an MP3 and I learn it. Then we’ll have a re­hearsal that day and do it.

When you’re on Let­ter­man, you make your en­trance and then say ‘‘ thanks for re­mem­ber­ing’’ to the au­di­ence. What in­spired that?

You know, I don’t know. It seemed so pre­pos­ter­ous and self- ab­sorbed. And then it be­came like, af­ter the third time, I’d say to the writ­ers, ‘‘ Now, I shouldn’t say this again’’. ‘‘ Oh no, you have to!’’ ‘‘ Are you sure?’’ ‘‘ Oh please, you have to’’. And Dave’s writ­ers, who’ve been with him from the be­gin­ning, when I come out, they’re stand­ing to the side but I can see them in my pe­riph­ery. And I say, ‘‘ Thanks for re­mem­ber­ing’’, and you just see them dou­ble over. They just love it. So I’m re­ally do­ing it for them. You’ve ap­peared on How I Met Your

Mother. What do you think of the new gen­er­a­tion of comic ac­tors? I think that show is done very well and they are re­ally tal­ented, that group, Neil Patrick Har­ris, Ja­son Segel and all of them. When Neil Patrick Har­ris per­forms funny songs at the Tony Awards, do you feel he’s sort of your hon­orary son?

He re­ally is, he re­ally is.

MADA­GAS­CAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED

Now show­ing Vil­lage Cine­mas

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