Martin Short


Nuisances surrounding hotel living:
Not being able to open a window
Constant knocking
Uncleaned rooms resembling the inside of a goat’s stomach
Hotel staff not being clairvoyant

Of the two kinds of comic actors—the kind who plays an ordinary person making his way through a ridiculous world, and the kind who plays a ridiculous person who often cannot make his way at all—Martin Short falls into the latter, funnier category. When he appears on stage or on screen, one hears that little ripple through the audience, because everyone knows that it’s about to get funnier. The best thing he’s done is the line “Sew, very old one! Sew like the wind!” in the much-overlooked Three Amigos!, but he’s been funny lots and lots of other times.

Like many interesting people, Short is a Canadian. He grew up in Ontario, Canada, and first attracted notice in the early eighties as part of the cast of the comedy show SCTV Network 90. From there he went on to a two-year stint on Saturday Night Live, attaining stardom with such comic characterizations as Jackie Rogers, Jr., and Ed Grimley, and a bunch of movies. Among my favorites are Innerspace (1987), Mars Attacks! (1996) and the aforementioned Amigos (1986). Currently he is appearing onstage in The Producers. He is also, in the opinion of this reporter, a sissy.

This interview was conducted over the phone, with Mr. Short in his hotel room in San Francisco and me at home.

—Daniel Handler


THE BELIEVER: When you go from job to job, what do you like in a hotel?

MARTIN SHORT: I like a hopping lobby. Well, a kind of scene lobby with energy because there’s something lonely about a hotel. So I pretend that I’m one of the royal family when I’m in a hotel and that the hotel belongs to me—it is a palace. So, if I’m in New York, I don’t want to stay someplace small and intimate and kind of Englishy. I would rather go to a big marble event. The first thing I like to do is order a club sandwich and a ginger ale and then I phone down and say “Make that two ginger ales. I’m a long way from home.”

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Daniel Handler has just finished two new books: Adverbs, and, as Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope.

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