Whether it's Only Murders in the Building (season 3 is currently streaming) or throwback classics like Three Amigos, Martin Short is a beloved comedian for a reason. However, a recent op-ed from Slate attempted to make the argument that Short's shtick wasn't as funny as his reputation. However, the article led to a tidal wave of support from Short's A-list friends who shouted from the rooftops (in this case, social media) that Short isn't just funny, he's hilarious. We agree.
Over the years he's delivered hilarious zingers and memorable performances that withstand the test of time. What to Watch looked back at some of Short's best performances over the years (ordered from his most recent to his earliest work).
Only Murders in the Building
Short’s most prominent role of the last few years is Only Murders in the Building, which he is absolutely brilliant in. His Oliver Putnam is the king of one-liners (a personal favorite: "Bunny had a secret elevator? Where does it go, hell?"), name dropping and questionable dietary choices, all magnificently played up by Short. However, even among all the quips Short also shines in Oliver's more deeply emotional moments, particularly with his son Will (Ryan Broussard). It is plain to see why Short has been nominated for two Emmys for his performance in the show's first two seasons and could very well be on his way to a third with another strong showing in Only Murders in the Building season 3. — Michael Balderston
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life
Between Only Murders, Three Amigos and Father of the Bride, we have seen the chemistry of Short and Steve Martin in spades, so it is no surprise that their live show together is an absolutely hilarious experience. I had the good luck to be able to see it in person, but it works just as well streaming on Netflix. The back-and-forth jokes between Short and Martin are of course gut-busting, while Short also rolls out many of his greatest hits, including a bit involving his famous character Jiminy Glick. While Short's showmanship is of course on full display, this is also an example that Short is a great comedic writer (he and Martin were Emmy nominated for this script) in addition to being an outstanding performer. — Michael Balderston
SNL and SCTV
Some of Martin Short's most memorable performances come from his appearances on sketch shows like Canada's SCTV and Saturday Night Live in the US. He appeared on SCTV from 1982-1983, and SNL from 1984-1985. Some of his most memorable SCTV characters include songwriter Irving Cohen, defense attorney Nathan Thurm and man-child Ed Grimley. Many of those characters made the jump to SNL, where he also became known for his impressions of Jerry Lewis and Katharine Hepburn.
After leaving the show, Short has hosted SNL 15 times, tying his pal Steve Martin. He and Martin have hosted together twice: in December 2022 and in 1986, where the duo promoted their new movie Three Amigos with SNL's Chevy Chase. — Sarabeth Pollock
The brilliance of Martin Short's character Jiminy Glick is that he's roasting himself while he's lighting up his famous guests. In Primetime Glick, Short brought Glick front and center as a main character, hosting A-list celebrities on his talk show. Of course, Glick never knew anything about his guests, which created some incredibly funny moments. Glick was a parody of late night TV hosts, entertainment journalists and movie critics, all wrapped up in one character whose larger than life persona was embodied by the padding and prosthetics Short wore (Primetime Glick's makeup team won an Emmy for their work). Glick was the host who didn't do his homework about his guests, so guests and viewers never knew what he was going to say but it was always funny. Short received an Emmy nomination for his performance on the show. — Sarabeth Pollock
Father of the Bride
One of the more heartwarming movies of the 90s was the Steve Martin reboot of Father of the Bride. It told the touching story of a father struggling to let go of his beloved daughter as she prepared to marry the love of her life. However, even with all of its tearjerking moments, it was Martin Shorts' memorable performance as wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer that stole the show. Shorts' Eggelhoffer was a great comedic antagonist to Martin's George Banks. From Short's funny and not-quite-German accent to all his hand gestures to his hilarious way of adding panic to climatic scenes in both Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II, I find it hard for anyone to discount Short's vital role in the franchise. — Terrell Smith
Innerspace (1987) might have been a rip-off of 1966's Fantastic Voyage, but it was Martin Short's performance as the unwitting carrier of a microscopic Dennis Quaid that made the movie what it was. Short played Jack Putter, a hypochondriac grocery clerk who is injected with a miniaturized submarine carrying Quaid's Lt. Tuck Pendleton. Putter isn't part of the experiment but he becomes the target of a rival organization hoping to gain control of Pendleton's vessel for their own purposes. Pendleton has to work from inside Putter to help Putter get back to the lab before his oxygen runs out. Here, it's a combination of Short's comedic timing and gift for physical comedy that really make the movie. — Sarabeth Pollock
Three Amigos was Martin Short's first major movie, allowing him to work with Steve Martin for the first time (with Chevy Chase rounding out the titular trio). Short's performance as Ned Nederlander is actually more muted than some of his later roles and sketch characters, but he is great playing off his co-stars and has a number of stand out moments of his own — like him inadvertently getting into a shootout because a former fan questioned whether or not he used trick photography ("Does anyone have a stopwatch, preferably with a second hand?") Three Amigos rightfully has become a classic thanks to Short, Martin and Chase. — Michael Balderston