Martin Short caused a laugh riot at Carmel’s Palladium on Saturday night. Tickling the funny bones of a full house of fans, he was over-the-top hilarious during 90-plus minutes of outrageous, controlled mayhem.
Best known for his stints on SCTV and Saturday Night Live, as well as his film roles in “Three Amigos,” “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride II,” the Tony-winning Short also has appeared on Broadway and in the theater in his native Canada.
Accompanied by pianist and straight man Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel’s keyboardist), Short delivered a performance that was a combination of stand-up comedy, impressions and appearances by some of his famous television and film characters.
A multimedia presentation, Short’s show also included projected stills and videos such as the montage that opened his show, in which he was seen playing Mr. Rogers, Julia Child, Liz Taylor, Hillary Clinton, Jerry Lewis and others.
Though some of Short’s numerous jokes were scripted, much of his material was improvised – illustrating his uncanny skills, honed by years performing with comedy troupes.
One joke, composed just for the occasion, was directed toward Carmel’s Mayor Jim Brainard, the driving force behind the Palladium.
“He’s really fit – with arms like Michelle Obama’s and boyish like k.d.lang,” said Short.
Youngish looking himself, Short, 61, assured the audience that he has not had any “work done.”
After reprising a song he performed in the 1986 musical comedy film “Three Amigos,” Short went out into the audience to choose three men to come on stage. Each donning a sombrero, they were asked to mirror a bit of choreography performed in the movie by Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Short.
As Short threw good-natured jabs at them, his unsuspecting victims meekly cooperated, delighting the audience and especially those who were greatly relieved they were not chosen to be publicly humiliated (all in good sport) by their relentlessly mocking host.
Following that was a series of skits. One involved the diminutive comedian dressed as a Scotsman wearing a kilt, as he crossed the stage to meet a much larger individual (well known local performer Dan Scarborough) who was similarly dressed, coming from the other direction. Upon meeting at center stage, Short jumped into Scarborough’s arms, making musical sounds that emulated that of a set of bagpipes – thus completing a sight gag that sent the audience into gales of laughter.
Another one featured his smarmy character, albino Las Vegas entertainer Jackie Rogers Jr., interviewing the likes of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as Katharine Hepburn – all of which were spot-on impressions of characters delivering satirical dialogue at its finest.
In yet another, Short, introduced “Step Brother to Jesus,” the title character of a fictitious musical in which he supposedly starred. Wearing a dark curly wig and a body suit on which were drawn a chest, abs and a penis, Short cavorted about the stage with total uninhibited abandon – cracking jokes all along the way.
Also making appearances were several of Short’s other infamous alter-egos, including Ed Grimley, the hyperactive nerd with the cowlick, and Franck Eggelhoffer, the eccentric wedding planner with the undetermined European accent in the “Father of The Bride” movies.
Short’s piece de resistance, however, was his portrayal of rotund television interviewer Jimmy Glick, a characer from “Prime Time Glick,” a TV series that ran from 2001 to 2003. Known for his bizarre questions, patronizing attitude and awkward body language, Glick, aka Short, interviewed local WIBC radio personality Ed Wenck.
Offering his guest a donut from a stack of Krispy Kremes sitting on a table between their separate chairs, Short as Glick proceeded to improvise nonsensical questions and used physical comedy involving his character’s substantial girth to bring the house down in a performance that was a tour de force. Wenck, himself a performer, held his own – giving Short just enough to react to, which made the scenario all the more entertaining.
After concluding his show with a tune titled “Finale,” from “Fame Becomes Me,” a 2006 Broadway show that he co-created, Shot thanked a glamorous young woman who brought him a glass of champagne, after which he cracked, “I like my champagne like I like my women – compliments of the theater.”
Then, toasting the audience, he said, “Better to have loved a Short than to have loved a tall.”
Leaving the stage, Short returned after a sustained standing ovation. He told a story about the time he was a young performer and attended a party hosted by Johnny Carson, on whose show he appeared frequently. Asked to perform for another guest – none other than Frank Sinatra – he sang “Too Marvelous for Words.”
Mimicking Old Blue Eyes, Short reprised the song as his encore after thanking the audience “for being kind to me.”
For tickets and information about upcoming 2011-2012 season shows at the Palladium, call (317) 843-3800 or visit www.thecenterfortheperformingnarts.org.