Short-lived return as Live host
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.
– NEW YORK POST
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