Martin Short the Tony award winning star of Little Me has come to Broadway with his very own show Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, a blissfully entertaining spoof of the current trend by stars to tell their life stories on The Great White Way. The multi award winning Short has starred in several films, but is probably best known for his television appearances that includes an Emmy Award for his work on SCTV Comedy Network. He is an immensely talented physical comedian that has given us stand out characterizations on “Saturday Night Live” as Ed Grimley, Jackie Rogers Jr., songwriter Irving Cohen and lawyer Nathan Thurman as well as snaring two Ace Awards for comedy specials he co-wrote, produced and starred in. The greatly admired wit created the hilarious Jiminy Glick for “Primetime Glick,” and even had his own daily show, “The Martin Short Show,” so there are apparently few limits to his extraordinary gifts.
Co- written by Short with Daniel Goldfarb Fame Becomes Me is an outrageously fictionalized autobiography about an over the hill celebrity, who bares his soul on stage. Created as a satire on ego tripping stars like Elaine Stritch, Billy Crystal, and Suzanne Sommers, who have spilled their guts in the name of art, the show is a wacky pack of lies with an edgy charm that is built around Short’s many talents. He unabashedly announces right up front “If I’d saved, I wouldn’t be here,” and that is probably the only telling moment in the entire surreal evening.
Put together like a vaudeville Forbidden Broadway that is little more than a potpourri of sketches Fame pokes fun at today’s mega celebrities in addition to some classic icons. The show boasts clever songs by the dynamic duo from Hairspray, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (who co-conceived and directs the evening), that although not exactly memorable are serviceable. They range from show tunes to 60’s like rock with some rousing gospel as well. The creative team has been smart enough to surround the engaging Short with an ensemble of five extremely talented supporting players, who contribute very funny bits that allows the star some time to catch his breath.
Mary Birdsong is bone chillingly real with her perfect reincarnation of Judy Garland and very silly as Joan Rives. Nicole Parker delivers audience pleasing impersonations of Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears and Celine Dion that poke fun at Ellen’s spastic dance movements, Britney’s baby dropping and Celine’s egomania. Composer Marc Shaiman performs double duty as a Short’s comic foil and onstage pianist. Brooks Ashmanskas is the most wicked of all with his shocking pastiches of Broadway dance legends Tommy Tune and Bob Fosse. And then there is Capathia Jenkins, who brings down the house with her 11th hour number about big black ladies “Stop the Show.” Fame Become Me wouldn’t be complete if Mr. Short didn’t bring out some of his classic characters, and they produce some of the evening’s most dazzling moments. We get the star at his best bringing to life his memorable creation of the cigar chomping Broadway producer, Irving Cohen, but the highlight is Jiminy Glick. The grossly overweight talk show host, who really doesn’t listen as his guests attempt to answer his insufferable questions, is an absolute non stop riot. Each evening there is a different quest celebrity picked right out of the audience. At the opening night performance we attended a game Jerry Seinfeld was a perfect delight.As an over the top musical revue that is little more than a slap in the face at celebrities taking themselves too seriously the evening is a laugh filled riot. Forget you troubles have a good time, but don’t expect anything more. There is still a show with a starring role for the wonderful Mr. Short that will take advantage of his many gifts, but we will have to wait a while longer and settle for this trendy re-hashing. Meanwhile be thankful he didn’t save.
gordin & christiano
Originally Published on Hamptons.com
Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street between Broadway and Eight Ave. For tickets call 212-239-6200.