Martin Short Toronto

Toronto through the eyes of Martin Short

Martin Short is one of Canada's best-known comedy exports. After making his mark on the Toronto comedy scene (alongside fellow Can-con legends John Candy and Eugene Levy) in the Second City troupe in the late '70s, his work on SCTV and Saturday Night Live in the early '80s catapulted him into the sketch-comedy pantheon.

In the years since, he's popped up in countless oddball character roles on film and TV (notably in How I Met Your Mother and Arrested Development); created his celebrity-interviewer alter ego, Jiminy Glick; and judged the first - and to date, the only - season of Canada's Got Talent.

Toronto hasn't been Short's home base for a long time - the Hamilton native moved to California in the mid-'80s, and he's quick to point out he's around only a handful of days each year - but his roots in the city still remain. He's set to return on Feb. 8 as the headlining act for Laugh Out Loud, a charity gala benefit for the Trillium Health Partners Foundation.

Short called me from L.A. to chat about where he likes to go for pasta, and why he's not going to invite Rob Ford onstage anytime soon. (I resisted the urge to ask him if he was a strong swimmer.)

You're headlining the Laugh Out Loud gala next month. Tell us about why this cause is so close to your heart.

First off all, I'm always drawn to any time I can go back to Toronto and hang, I'm happy to go back. And my son, Henry, actually lives here. But it's an amazing organization -- they do fantastic work. The hospitals are the most important element of a community, and that's what they help support, so I'm all for it.

What's in store for your performance at the event?

It's Martin Short's me hosting Saturday Night Live and being the cast, as well. It's a one-man variety's a party with Marty.

You've signed on to guest star on SCTV costar Andrea Martin's new show. What was it like shooting in Toronto again?

I was a guest on one of the shows, yeah. I was just there in December. It's always fun [to come back]. I lived in Toronto from '72 to '86 or something -- it was my principal residence. But, you know, I have a cottage up in Muskoka, so I'm back in the Toronto area in the summer.

How often do you get back to Toronto? What are your days usually like while here?

If I'm in Toronto, usually, I'm working. But sometimes I'll do days on either end of the work session to see friends, see my son, go to a hockey game, things like that.

Any favourite hangouts or restaurants?

Giancarlo, I love Giancarlo. Sotto Sotto. Those are probably my two faves.

Growing up in Hamilton, what was your relationship with Toronto like growing up?

We used to come in as a family to go to the O'Keefe Centre, now the Sony Centre, and we would see Harry Belafonte, people like that. Judy Garland, the musical Oliver. So that was my first connection to international show business, was through the O'Keefe Centre. And I'd come in to the Ex, every year.

Have you kept an eye on the comedy or theatre scene in Toronto since you left?

I will still go to the Second City shows. Andrew Alexander, who ran Second City for 40 years, is a dear friend of mine, and I'll always go see the shows. I'm curious about that.

What's next for you after this?

I'm doing a television series for FOX right now, called Mullaney, and we're shooting six episodes of that, so I'll be doing that 'til probably the end of March in L.A.

We hear that when you're touring your solo show, you ask the mayor of whatever town you're in to make an appearance. Do you see a Jiminy Glick-Rob Ford showdown in the future?

No, I think Rob Ford is really not very good for Toronto. I don't find the Rob Ford thing as funny as some. I find it makes Toronto look silly to have a mayor like that. A mayor is the ambassador to the city. And so I always feel a little bit, y'know, like I wish he'd had resigned, dealt with his personal issues, and if he wants to run again, fine. But him sitting there and being entrenched in his position doesn't make him a fan of Toronto, it makes him a fan of himself. And the constant support for him makes the city look silly internationally.

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