Throughout his career, Short has never worried about making his comedy “contemporary.” To him, comedy is timeless, and he simply focuses on what amuses or interests him.
LOS ANGELES—Tony Award-winning comedian and SNL alum Martin Short shares his thoughts on film, friends and the pursuit of happiness in an exclusive interview for the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine (ATM). On February 4, Short will host AARP’s star-studded 18th Annual Movies for Grownups® Awards, airing on PBS on Friday, February 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and streaming the following day on pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.
For over 40 years, Short has entertained audiences both on screen and on stage from ¡Three Amigos! to Saturday Night Live to Broadway. Today, the eccentric comedy legend is taking his jokes around the country with close friend Steve Martin for their touring stage revue, “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t.”
Throughout his career, Short has never worried about making his comedy “contemporary.” To him, comedy is timeless, and he simply focuses on what amuses or interests him. “At the age of 68, I continue to go with my instinct of what I think is funny, and I continue to make a living,” Short shares with ATM. “That’s all that really matters. I’m not a big believer in shelf life.”
While the celebrated comedian has not had the easiest life, he has always maintained a positive outlook. Short’s wife of 30 years passed in 2010; however, he still makes life decisions with her in mind.
He shares, “This idea that it just ends, and don’t speak of them—that’s wrong. That’s based on denial that we’re all going to die. So to me, she’s still here. At the same time, her death emboldened me to take risks. With real tragedy, you become a little more daring. It’s the yin to the yang: the positive part of life’s dark side.”
The following are excerpts from ATM’s February/March 2019 cover story featuring Martin Short, available in homes starting February and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/.
Selections from the Martin Short cover story in ATM’s February/March issue:
On what “Movies for Grownups” means to him:
“So many ﬁlms now are spectacles: a fantasy with dragons, or a cartoon or slasher movie. I see “Movies for Grownups” as the “What else is out there?” category—the thought-provoking or inspiring ﬁlms that aren’t about some guy dangling off a cliff as he’s being shot at with laser beams. They’re the ﬁlms for people like me.”
On the quality of watching films at the theater:
“People watch ﬁlms and TV everywhere now: on their phones, on their iPads, sitting on the toilet. I don’t like it. The easier it becomes, the less magic there is.”
On whether or not comedy is different today:
“I don’t know that it is. Comedy is so subjective. I love the Three Stooges. You might hate them. It doesn’t make either one of us a moron.”
On his thoughts on bucket lists:
“My life lists are more pragmatic. For decades, I’ve maintained a list according to several categories of well-being: health, family, friends, money, career, creativity, self-discipline and lifestyle. Periodically I give myself a report card. It shows what needs to be shored up.”
On his pragmatic pursuit of happiness:
“…I realized that success isn’t just about your career. It’s similar to a GPA: determined by the whole picture, not one course. So even if you’re failing in one category, you can create a good, happy life if you shore up the other categories. And that’s what I’ve tried to do.”
On his favorite part about getting older:
“…there was a time in my life when I’d face an audience and I’d have to start by winning them over. Now when they see Steve and me come out, they go, “There they are!” We’ve already won them over with our careers up to that point. So that’s nice.”
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.