I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
(Harper, 2014, 336 pages)
Few people make me laugh as hard as Martin Short does. I love his physical comedy, his characters, and now I love his book. I Must Say – the title comes from the verbal tick of Short’s famous character Ed Grimley – includes stories from Short’s childhood growing up in Ontario, his time at SCTV and SNL, his movie career, and (my personal favorite) the creation of the character Jiminy Glick for the show Primetime Glick. For comedy fans, Short’s account of his early career doing theatre and SCTV in Toronto, where he worked with people like Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Andrea Martin, and Catherine O’Hara, is particularly interesting. He has much less to say about the one year that he spent at SNL, but what he does reveal shows just how much pressure can be on the cast of that show.
As funny and interesting as Short’s stories are, the book is as much about the difficulties and joys of his personal life as it is about his career. His oldest brother died in a car accident when Short was twelve, and both of his parents had died by the time he was twenty. Short’s love for his family is evident in the stories he tells about them, and he describes how facing the tragedy of untimely death has shaped how he lives his life. The later part of the book is largely a tribute to his late wife, Nancy Doleman. It is as heartfelt as it is funny.