Martin Short Brings a Lifetime of his Characters to the Ridgefield Playhouse

Martin Short

Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road, Ridgefield. 8 p.m., $98-$105. (203) 438-5795,

It's a party with Marty!," joked actor/comedian

Martin Short, 61, during a recent phone interview with the Weekly. "My analogy is that it's like I'm hosting Saturday Night Live, but I'm also the cast. It's all very loose and improvised and fast moving." To complete the SNL motif, Short is also the musical guest, the writing team and the producer of his one-man variety show, which he brings to the Ridgefield Playhouse on July 15. It's one part stand-up, one part Broadway, but really, at the heart, it's a live retrospective of a comedic career almost 40 years in the making. Short revives characters from his days on SNL (he joined as just a cast member in 1984) and SCTV, as well as those from some of his most successful films — characters like Ned Nederlander of The Three Amigos and the flamboyant wedding-planner, Franck Eggelhoffer, from Father of the Bride.

"I think that if you stay off the stage too long you're hesitant to go back to it," says Short, who despite his success in television and film still tries to perform live three times a month. "The main thing you're trying to do on that stage is be loose and in the moment and make the audience feel like they're having a hang with you."

The Playhouse is billing the Canadian-born Short as "family friendly" (who's more friendly than a Canadian?), and for some comedians that may feel like a kiss of death, especially when most are trying their best to out-shock and out-repulse one another on a nightly basis. But Short is family friendly in the truest sense of the term, where his humor isn't overly juvenile nor overly sophisticated, not vulgar but also not mundane. He creates characters that are undeniably ridiculous — like the inept, obese talk show host Jiminy Glick ("Jiminy will be there — fat face, the whole thing. You'll be stunned.") — yet somehow still true to life.

"Even when you're playing Franck in Father of the Bride, there are people out there like Franck," he explained, "Even when you're doing comedy, you try to create a character with three dimensions, even though he might be a bizarre guy."

Recently, Short has stepped back into television, appearing in six episodes of the 7th and final season of "Weeds," and in several episodes of the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." The comedian turned heads, however, when he took a rare, dramatic role as attorney Leonard Winstone in "Damages," for which he earned an Emmy nomination.

"In my career I've done just a lot of character work, so when you do something like 'Damages' you're just doing yet another character," he explained. "He may not be as extreme, he may not be as eccentric as other characters you've done, but he's still a character."

It's unlikely that Martin Short's one-man variety show is so varied that Leonard Winstone would make an appearance, but one never knows with Party Marty. Sit up front and he may even bring you on stage to do The Three Amigos salute.