Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review of "I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend" by Martin Short

Note: I listened to the audio version of this book which is fun because Short performs some of his famous comic characters, sings, and does impersonations.

Though he may not have realized it at the time, Martin Short was meant to be a performer from childhood. As a youngster he made tape recordings of his family's entertaining quarrels and conversations...as well as his own solitary sketches. This was all fodder for Short's eventual emergence as a comedy machine with a stable of humorous characters.

Short grew up in Toronto, in a large loving Catholic family, but - having many Jewish friends and neighbors - was a little confused about his religion. In a droll anecdote Short relates turning to the priest after his confirmation and asking "Am I Jewish now?" By the time Short was twenty he had lost an older brother and both parents, and these events deeply affected his life. Knowing he had to make a living Short gave himself a year to get a job in show business...or look for a different career. Needless to say the alternate job wasn't necessary.

During Short's early working life he was on Canada's Second City Television (SCTV) and New York's Saturday Night Live (SNL). He later starred in many movies including Three Amigos, Mars Attacks!, and Father of the Bride. In the latter film Short plays a kooky wedding planner with an odd accent that - though understandable to the ladies - is incomprehensible to the bride's dad (played by Steve Martin). Short demonstrates some of the planner's funniest pronunciations, where wedding is 'vodding' and cake is 'kak.' Short also starred in Broadway productions, had his own TV variety show, and was a regular on the late night talk show circuit. (Since the book was published Short landed a new show with Maya Rudolph, called 'Maya and Marty').

Short describes and demonstrates some of his most iconic characters including my favorite, Jiminy Glick, an overweight and (gloriously) insensitive celebrity interviewer who occasionally jumps and humps his female guests. Short is also a gifted impersonater, and does a mean Katherine Hepburn amongst others. As added entertainment, Short sings some ditties he (and others) penned...all of which made me smile.

In the course of his career Short met/became friends with lots of show biz people and he mentions a good many of them in the book, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Paul Shaffer, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Diane Keeton, Lorne Michaels, Gilda Radnor (his girlfriend for a time), Eugene Levy, Jan Hooks, Catherine O'Hara, Tony Curtis....and LOTS more. Short also describes his yearly Christmas parties, where most of the famous guests performed. The 'shows' started off as impromptu fun but - over the years - evolved into carefully crafted and rehearsed presentations. Some readers/reviewers consider Short mentioning his celebrity friends 'name dropping', but (as I see it) you know who you know. Moreover Short relates entertaining anecdotes along with the names.

Short talks a great deal about his beloved wife Nancy Dolman, their kids, their homes, their activiities, their vacations... and Nancy's tragic death in 2010 from ovarian cancer. Short devotes the last part of the book to Nancy's illness and death, and his grief is deeply felt and touching.

All in all I enjoyed the book, which gave me some insight into a talented artist and made me laugh.

Rating: 3.5 stars


  1. I just reserved this from my local library! Thanks for mentioning this book- I did not know about it!

    1. You're welcome Jessica. It's a very entertaining book.

    2. Thank you again for this post! I finished the audiobook this weekend and posted my review today (which is coincidentally today!)I forgot to thank you in my review, but I did in the comments! http://jessicasreadingroom.com/i-must-say-review-and-happy-birthday-to-martin-short/

    3. You're welcome Jessica. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. Short is such a funny guy! And he seems like a real 'mensch' as well. :)