A few minutes with Mulaney’s Martin Short

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Short (left) with the guy the series is named after, John Mulaney

It is always a kick for me to grab a few minutes with any one of my comedy heroes from Canada’s greatest TV export–SCTV.

So I quickly scrambled on stage at the end of the Mulaney press conference last July at the Beverly Hilton to scrum with Martin Short. The Hamilton native is quick and thoughtful in these sessions, very himself and never “on.” He listens, banters and gives good quote.

He has his priorities, too. He’d flown in last July from his cottage in Muskoka to help promote the new comedy (premiering Sunday on Fox and Global). A day or two later, he was flying straight back.

There’s too much to ask Short in the 13 minutes I shared with a few other reporters after the session. The Americans asked mainly about Ed Grimley and Jiminy Glick, one asked about Damages. The Canucks had a lot more to cover, although nobody brought up Rogers’ short-lived misfire Canada’s Got Talent.

I asked about Schitt’s Creek, the CBC series starring his old SCTV pals Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Short hears it’s hilarious. I also asked if he’d host the “Screenie” Awards for a third time. Sure doesn’t sound like it. I’d heard that Short had to ditch his planned song-and-dance number at the start of last year’s gala and substitute something less worthy. The last minute decision apparently didn’t sit too well.

Robin Williams died after the summer press tour or I would have asked Short for a comment. Ditto Joan Rivers. A peer like Short–who also  simply loves show business–would have something special to say. I did ask about David Letterman’s pending retirement from The Late Show. A one-man Ed Sullivan Show, Short has to be on Dave’s Top-10 guests list.

“I think he’s going to be so desperately missed that no one even understands,” said Short. “The level of his mind and the brilliance of him in the moment, I mean, I go back to the first show after 9/11 and I don’t think anyone else could have done that better…he’s a real genius and he’s gonna be deeply, deeply missed.”

Short mentioned he’d been to dinner with Dave, apparently a rare privilege. “He’s lovely and light and funny. You know, he plays a role, like everyone. Like we all do.”

Short said one time when he was guesting on the show the audience in the Ed Sullivan Theater started laughing, seemingly for no reason. Short turned to Dave and said, “’Why are they laughing?’ and he said, [imitates Dave], ‘Nothing we’ve done.’”

Short thinks Stephen Colbert–someone he’s also had dinner with–will be a worthy successor to Letterman on The Late Show. “I think he’s gonna do so well, because I think the person who sits in that chair – we must believe that’s who they are. That they’re not leaving that chair and becoming someone else. We have to believe, – and Stephen Colbert is such a deeply lovely, smart man, I think that’s gonna shine through and that’s why we’re gonna watch him.”

Read more about Short and the new series Mulaney here at this feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.

3 Responses to “A few minutes with Mulaney’s Martin Short”

  1. Patrick kelly

    Here’s something you may want to ask Martin Short about if & when you meet him again. Back when Peter Gzowski had a talk-show on CBC, I attended a taping of one episode. I think Randy Bachman was supposed to be the guest, but he wasn’t there. Martin Short did guest and after Gzowski finished taping the director asked the audience if we wanted to stick around for another show, which turned out to be Martin Short hosting the same format of a talk show. This is over 30 years ago now, so my memory is hazy. But two of his guests were the editors/writers of the National Lampoon book Slightly Higher In Canada, and the show finished with a “cooking segment” where the Lampooners cooked “traditional Canadian food” which consisted mainly of maple syrup and beer. Several years later, I read that one of those editors claimed that CBC stole that bit for Bob & Doug McKenzie. (In short, no they didn’t).
    The only line I remember form the show was at one point in the talk segment, a framed picture behind the couch randomly fell in a clatter off the wall. The guest asked “what the hell happened” and instantly Short responded “Maybe it was bored.”
    Biggest laugh of the taping.
    I don’t think CBC ever ran the show on the air.

    Reply
    • Bill Brioux

      Great story Pat. If I ever run into Short again I will ask about this!

      Reply
  2. David C

    Well his new show just set a ratings record for having absolutely the lowest Nielsen rating EVER for the premiere episode of any network program. If this was a CBC series, it would run for two season!

    Reply

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