News Column

Comic and 'SNL' alum Martin Short heads to Gallo Center

November 14, 2013


Nov. 14--You won't find Martin Short tweeting out any

Ed Grimley quips.

Nor will you find him linking to his latest Jiminy Glick interview on Facebook. And he certainly won't Instagram his lunch with any of his "Three Amigos."

Despite the seemingly endless deluge of information from celebrities on social media, the veteran comic and actor isn't big on the Internet.

"The idea of spending more time on getting people to know who I am just doesn't seem like time well spent for me," said the "Saturday Night Live" alum. "I totally get why it's fun to have Twitter, and a lot of my friends tweet and do Facebook. But when you've been a celebrity for a long time, your anonymity becomes more intriguing. I like show business, but I don't like to spend 24 hours a day in it."

While colleagues and friends like Steve Martin and Tom Hanks have taken to Twitter and other social media, Short has resisted the urge to overshare. Instead, it's his comedy that has won him all his followers.

Short joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1984 after working on Canada's famed "SCTV." The Emmy winner has created indelible characters like the excessively cowlicked Grimley and portly interviewer-to-the-stars Glick. He branched out successfully to feature film with hits ranging from the "Three Amigos" to "Father of the Bride" and "Innerspace."

While he is known as primarily a funnyman, Short also has done dramatic roles, appearing on shows like "Damages" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." In 1999, he took home a Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical with the revival of "Little Me." Seven years later, he was back on Broadway with his one-man show, "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me," which toured several cities, including San Francisco.

Live performances continue to be a staple in Short's repertoire. He brings his show and his stable of characters to the Gallo Center for the Arts on Nov. 23. As part of the show, he will interview Modesto native and "Glee" casting director Robert Ulrich in character as Glick on stage.

Martin spoke with The Bee recently from his Pacific Palisades home about fame, creating characters and the "party with Marty" he throws for his audience.

Q: So, why have you not jumped on the social media bandwagon like some of your other entertainment friends?

A: Someone like Steven Martin does it brilliantly. Steve started as a comedy writer for the "Smothers Brothers." One time, we were going to the Oscars and he was typing and I asked what it said. He said, "I hope to meet Cher and get on a first-name basis for her." If I did that, I would probably be thinking, "What should I write today, what would be funny?" It would be like an exam at school for me instead.

Q: You've done all kinds of performing -- TV, movies, Broadway, etc. Do you have a medium you prefer, or do you get different things from all of them?

A: What I am drawn toward is the notion of the variety of it all. I think that at a certain point, when you are not under pressure to pay rent, you are under a different kind of pressure, which is, "How do I keep interested in it all?"

Q: So is that what you enjoy about being on stage in front of an audience?

A: I think that one feeds the other. Why do people continue to work out? Why do people like to hike? To me, if I am in a situation where two to three times a month I go out and do shows, that means if someone says, "Do you want to host 'SNL?'" I'm not going to be nervous because I'm always in front of an audience. Especially when people have known you for a long time, you're not auditioning for them anymore. What they are hoping instead is you appear loose and look like someone in the mood to be there. So they walk away and say, "I got to hang with Marty Short. How cool was that?" It's a party with Marty and everyone is invited.

Q: Speaking of live, you've come back and hosted "SNL" numerous times, most recently last December. What's returning to that set like for you?

A: It's always for me kind of comforting. You know you're going to have a week full of intensity that is kind of exciting. The people are there, too. Lorne Michaels, my old friend, and people like Seth Meyers are tremendous writers and spirits. It's really hard to find a bad egg in that group.

Q: I understand your show will include some of your most famous characters, from Ed Grimley to Jiminy Glick. And you select a "local celebrity" to interview at each show as Glick. How did that get started?

A: Yes, I interview a local celebrity at every show. I introduced it with my Broadway show in 2007. It's because you want to make the show feel a little dangerous. As many pockets as you can create that are improvisational is interesting for me. The audience feels it's all made up.

Q: But how do you get into the Glick character so quickly, because that's a lot of persona to put on?

A: The fat suit is step in and zip up. If I was doing it for TV or movies, it would be two and a half hours in makeup. What we created for stage was a kind of mask that Velcros on, plus the wig.

Q: Are you constantly creating new characters, or do you prefer to hone the ones you've already established?

A: There's usually a reason to create a character. I'm not someone who will just create a character and create a vehicle. I have to do "SNL" and create a new character. When I did "SNL" last time, I did a British adviser to the royal family.

Q: So are there any other projects on the horizon for you?

A: I'm doing a TV series called "Mulaney" for Fox. John Mulaney (who writes and stars in the show) is a wildly talented writer, performer, stand-up. In this series, he plays himself as a comedy writer writing for a very famous comic and game-show host (played by Short). We start shooting in January-February. I haven't done TV for so long. But this is something ("SNL" creator) Lorne Michaels is executive-producing and I knew John Mulaney as writer of Stefon (a character played by Bill Hader) on "SNL." I think you never know what's going to happen with anything. What's intriguing about working with great people is that it doesn't come along all the time, so when you get it, you should take it.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @marijkerowland.


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