Short-lived re­turn as Live host

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ASa Satur­day Night Live cast mem­ber dur­ing the 1984-1985 sea­son, Martin Short helped pull the show back from the cre­ative abyss with hi­lar­i­ous, much-loved characters like the ex­citable Ed Grimley, Katharine Hep­burn, and her nephew, Nel­son, as well as skits such as the clas­sic syn­chro­nisedswim­ming sketch with Harry Shearer. Add two host­ing gigs and a drop-in ap­pear­ance in 2006, and Short is a long-cher­ished mem­ber of the SNL fam­ily. He re­turns to host this year’s Christ­mas episode. Short, who has also ap­peared on the se­ries Dam­ages, Weeds and How I Met Your Mother, spoke about host­ing the Christ­mas episode, which will also fea­ture mu­si­cal guest Paul McCart­ney. Satur­day Night Live airs in Aus­tralia on pay TV’s The Com­edy Chan­nel. Are you hop­ing to bring back any of your old re­cur­ring characters dur­ing your host­ing gig?

That is some­thing one pon­ders. You go: Does the cur­rent au­di­ence even know that char­ac­ter? The ul­ti­mate an­swer is: If you have a funny idea for a char­ac­ter, then the char­ac­ter has a right to make an ap­pear­ance. If you’re just do­ing it to say, ‘‘Re­mem­ber me?’’ Then it be­comes, ‘‘Nope. We don’t.’’ But if [the writ­ers] have a great idea for Ed Grimley or Jackie Rogers or Jiminy Glick, then maybe. From your year as a cast mem­ber and your other ap­pear­ances, what’s your favourite me­mory?

There was a sketch Billy Crys­tal and I did where a kid was dat­ing my daugh­ter, and I was sus­pi­cious of him. I was like an old cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive type, and I had a bald pate on. Billy was play­ing the kid, and I sat him by the fire and hyp­no­tised him to try to get the truth out of him. But Billy also had a bald pate on – not for the scene we were do­ing, but be­cause he was bald in the scene coming up. So I kept say­ing, ‘‘Look into the fire,’’ and hit­ting the back of his head to try to fo­cus him, but I didn’t know that ev­ery time I hit him, his wig went up. It was one of those great live mo­ments where the au­di­ence knew some­thing the ac­tors didn’t. We thought the au­di­ence was laugh­ing be­cause of some­thing we were do­ing, and the re­al­ity was, it had noth­ing to do with that. Also, in a dress re­hearsal for an Ed Grimley scene, Tina Turner’s top slipped, and she kind of flashed us. Are there any cur­rent cast mem­bers or characters you’re par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to work­ing with?

Any time Fred Ar­misen opens his mouth [he’s funny]; and Ste­fon, Bill Hader’s char­ac­ter, is as funny as any­thing gets. [New cast mem­ber] Ce­cily Strong is very funny. I don’t know how Lorne keeps find­ing th­ese peo­ple that seem to not only have tal­ent, but the con­fi­dence to do this on live tele­vi­sion. The joke of the orig­i­nal cast was that they were the Not Ready for Prime Time Play­ers. If Gilda [Rad­ner, one of the show’s orig­i­nal cast mem­bers] were on right now, she’d say, ‘‘Boy, I was a lot bet­ter the sec­ond year than I was the first year.’’ Th­ese guys seem like they’re strong and im­pres­sive right out of the gate. You were friends with Gilda from the pre- days, weren’t you?

Yes. We used to go out. Can you share a fun story about her, some­thing that really en­com­passes what you loved about her?

One morn­ing she was on the phone, and she was say­ing, ‘‘So, bye. Phone me. I love you. Good­bye. Bye.’’ And I walk in the kitchen and say, ‘‘Who’s that?’’ She says, ‘‘Wrong num­ber.’’ Last week, Gilda’s Club, the can­cer char­ity that was in­spired by her, an­nounced they were re­mov­ing her name and pres­ence from their or­gan­i­sa­tion, be­cause they feel she’s not rel­e­vant to a younger gen­er­a­tion. Any thoughts on that?

Well, you bet­ter start chang­ing that Lin­coln Me­mo­rial name then. The Brad and An­gelina Me­mo­rial. How about that? They’ll know them. You have three chil­dren in their twen­ties. Have any fol­lowed in your show busi­ness foot­steps?

My son Oliver works at Warner Bros. He would like to be in film or sports pro­duc­tion ul­ti­mately. He works for a Se­nior VP there, but he’s, like, 25, and just crack­ing it. My other kids, no. What do you make of the fact that none of them wanted to pur­sue per­form­ing?

I felt I dodged a bul­let a lit­tle bit. As a par­ent, you can­not say to one of your chil­dren, ‘‘I don’t think so, honey.’’ You have to say, ‘‘Fan­tas­tic! You’re great!’’ The tough thing about the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness if you’re an ac­tor is that you could be Meryl Streep, and if you’re not in the right ve­hi­cle at the right time, you might miss the boat.


Satur­days and Sun­days, 9.30pm, The Com­edy Chan­nel

Martin Short

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