The last time Martin Short was in Winnipeg was in 1991. As a guest of his one-time SCTV co-star John Candy, Short and his young son Oliver departed Burbank, Calif. at 5 a.m. and flew to Winnipeg in a private jet to attend the Grey Cup game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders.
"We landed in Winnipeg and it was freezing," Short recalls in a phone interview from Rosseau, Ont., three hours north of Toronto.
In fact, it was one of the coldest Grey Cups on record with a temperature of -27 C. And despite Candy's part ownership of the Argos, "suddenly, no one had John's tickets," Short recalls.
"He felt it was a deliberate slight. We ended up on the 18-yard line freezing. I remember at one point Oliver, who at that point was four or five, was sitting there and his tears were freezing.
"That's when I knocked on the door to the press room. 'You've got to let me in.' And they let me in.
"That was my only trip to Winnipeg."
Short's visit next week should be somewhat less traumatic. Indeed, it should be a bit of a laugh riot.
Short is putting on his own show at the Fort Garry Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 15 in support of Marymound, a social services agency for children, youth and families.
Short has a wealth of characters and material from which to cull material. Indeed, the question is, which Martin Short should we expect to see? The multi-character cut-up from SCTV and Saturday Night Live? The Tony Award-winning song and dance man? One of the world's greatest talk show guests (according to no less an authority than David Letterman)? Or perhaps the world's most ill-informed and inappropriate celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick?
"It's a bit of all of them," Short says. "I think that's what makes me a credible candidate to do a show like this, and to do a show in general.
"You could call it 'party with Marty' or you could call it a one-man variety show. I guess the better analogy might be if I was hosting Saturday Night Live, but I played all the cast as well.
"It's kind of a fictitious journey of my life. You go everywhere from me being in the attic, where I have my own imaginary show and acting that out when I'm a teen, to a fictitious all-nude version of Godspell that I'm in, to telling inside stories about Saturday Night Live and then covering the movies.
"I'll go into the audience and grab three guys up and turn them into the Three Amigos. Jiminy Glick will turn up and interview a surprise guest. Ed Grimley shows up and will sing a tribute song. Franck (pronounced 'Fronk,' the wedding planner from the 1991 movie Father of the Bride) will show up and discuss who does and doesn't have style in life."
Short, 61, says doing these shows is a way to keep up his stage performance chops.
"I think it's dangerous for a performer such as myself to stay too long off the stage because then, when you return to it, the ease sometimes is not there," he says.
He is not aiming for the kind of show where every joke gets a big laugh.
"No one is looking at it that way," he says. "They're looking at it like: I got the sense I was hanging with him. And if you can convey that kind of looseness and ease, then it's kind of what you want to achieve and the longer you're off the stage, the harder that is to get back.
"There's also a certain point in your career where it's not the rent that's fuelling it so much as what keeps you interested. I find that, come the end of the year, I did that part in the movie and I did a television special and I did 20 concerts. It makes for an interesting year wrap-up."
Short's show is at the Fort Garry Hotel Ballroom on Saturday, Oct. 15. Cocktails are at 6 p.m., dinner is at 7 p.m. Short's show begins at 9 p.m. for an hour to 75 minutes. Eight tickets are still available at $175 each (charitable tax receipt provided). Call 336-5505 to purchase.