Martin Short is a funny guy, even on the phone and with the occasional broken connection and “Are you there? Hello? Hello?”. When I opened my mouth to speak though, I suddenly found myself rather nervous, I mean, it’s Martin Short, right? I called him Mr. Short, to which he laughed and said “Marty, please, it’s Marty.” So here’s how my chat with Marty went down.
Why has it taken you this long to get down here to us?
Well, you know, I guess because no-one invited me… No, you try and fit things into a busy schedule and suddenly there’s an opening and someone asks if you want to do your show and then suddenly you’re booking a flight.
Do you think there might be any preconceived ideas about Australia lurking within you that are about to be shattered?
You mean like in the middle of a performance a kangaroo bounces on stage? No, I get newspapers, I can read. I’m Canadian. [Laughs] I actually spent some of my time in my childhood learning about Australia, more of course, than they do in the United States. I can’t wait to come! I’ve actually spent my life wanting to go to Australia.
So, it sounds like you’re looking forward to the Australian tour?
I can’t wait! I really can’t wait. It’s the first country on my list of things I haven’t done yet. I'm so looking forward to it.
So you know of Norman Gunston?
Yes, in fact, I do.
I think Jiminy Glick and Norman Gunston would have an interesting interview, don’t you?
Oh I wish I could get Norman, he’d be perfect.
Which famous Australian do you think that Jiminy Glick would most like to interview?
Obviously Jiminy would love to interview Hugh Jackman, or why not Gary MacDonald?
You’ve obviously got friends in showbiz, does Jiminy Glick go through the proper channels if he wants to interview them?
Jiminy Glick is so moronic that he doesn’t care who he interviews because he’s just so self-absorbed. If he interviewed Bill Clinton, he wouldn’t ask about Monica Lewinsky, he’d ask why doesn’t Emma Thompson work more, you know? That’s just what he’s like.
Is Jiminy still inventing himself in interviews, or has he evolved completely do you think?
No, you know, I do many different kinds of characters, but that character is completely improvised, so what happens is that in improvisation you never can deny something, for example, when Tom Hanks was a guest on the show he said, ‘you know Jiminy, I love your show, but I really miss your daytime show’. So, when you’re improvising, you can either say – no, there’s no daytime show, or you pretend that there is a daytime show, so Jiminy said ‘Oh I love that show too’ and we talked for a bit about it, so from then on Jiminy had a daytime show, compliments of Tom Hanks.
I would imagine that Jiminy’s make-up would take a long time and I’ve heard the rumour that he’ll be making an appearance in the new show, does this mean we should expect some good old-fashioned theatre magic involved in his appearance?
Yes. Before I’d just come out with a thin face in the fat suit and say I'd used a cream called ‘ass-be-gone’ that morning and it had shrunk my face, but now there’s a mask that I put on with the glasses. It looks a little scary, but from a distance it works.
How much of the new show is improvised?
Lots of it. The Jiminy Glick stuff is - I bring guys up onto the stage and I teach them to do a whole Three Amigos salute. There’s a lot, and the show can change and evolve. It’s very spontaneously changing from night to night. It’s a work in progress… like Joan River’s neck.
You’ve won many accolades for your stage work, is live theatre more rewarding, or in some sense more enjoyable for you than film and TV?
I do enjoy it the most, absolutely. I find it the freest. And you know, in everything else you do; if you make a film, or you’re in television, you’re kind of a pawn and you’re part of someone else’s vision or someone else’s creation of their artwork. But on stage it’s just you, there’s no-one editing you, there’s no-one censoring you, and it’s kind of liberating.
And I suppose doing a one-man show is even more so?
Absolutely. Especially when you reach that point in your career when no-one is willing to work with you…
Modern Australian audiences don’t really know Saturday Night Live and many, especially gen-Y Australians, have had little or no exposure to Jiminy Glick, so when you say ‘Martin Short’ to an Australian they invariably start trying to do a Franck impersonation. Are you going to give Australian audiences any Franck in the new show?
Franck will show up, yes, [in Franck accent] he will comment on who is stylish and who is not stylish, you know? He says that Prince Phillip had style until the renaissance… and then he didn’t. He’s so old at this point that the only time he doesn’t have to pee is when he’s peeing.
How much of Franck was laid out for you by the writer/director of the Father of the Bride movies, and much of him was spontaneously born from you?
We did so many different takes that it’s hard to remember what was improvised and what wasn’t. [Laughs] There wasn’t a real script so much as the idea that the mother and daughter could understand Franck but the father couldn’t, which symbolised the alienation of the father from the process in planning the wedding, so it was really the idea in the script as opposed to specific lines of dialogue.
I was also born on March 26 and happen to know my way around a Numerology chart so I’m thinking that there’s a chance that you underestimate the philanthropic nature of what you bring to the world through laughter, and that beneath the super-energised entertainer is a visionary who sees the potential in all things. Do you acknowledge this vision and do you think you use it in your work as a comedian?
Really?! That’s pretty cool! And whatever you just said I totally agree with! I second it, absolutely [Laughs]. I sure am energetic, yes. I don’t analyse what I do. I can see people might consider that, but I can also see them saying oh my God, I hate that guy! It’s all so subjective. Some people love physical comedy and some people hate it.
As Jiminy would say - what’s next for Martin Short?
[In Jiminy accent] After this tour I'm going to come back and do a television show and then I'm going to pop in and say hello to David Letterman and I'm going to go to my cottage for the summer. Then I’ll do more concerts in the fall and then I’ll do a movie… you know, the usual stuff…
MARTIN SHORT - LIVE
2009 Tour Dates
Wed 27th – Sat 30th May
The [email protected] Crown
Bookings: Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au
Mon 1st & Tue 2nd June
Bookings: Ticketmaster 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au
Wed 3rd June
Bookings: QTIX 136 246 or www.qtix.com.au