We all love Amy Schumer, everyone knows how brilliant Key & Peele are, and you’ve watched Will Ferrell’s classic SNL sketches countless of times. But in this weekly column Sketchy MVPs, The Laugh Button shines a light on comedians from our favorites shows and troupes who don’t often get rightful credit for their contributions to sketch comedy.
Long before Kids In The Hall, Toronto’s Second City troupe proved that Canada was a hot spot for absurd satire through SCTV. Between 1976 and 1984 through multiple seasons, the show introduced the world to the talents of comedic greats like John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin and even Harold Ramis. Yet some might not remember that SCTV also gave one other beloved comedic icon their first big break: Martin Short.
To be fair, Short’s time on SCTV was considerably shorter than other notable cast members (appearing in a handful of episodes scattered between 1982 and 1983). And frankly, Short’s comedic genius is unquestionable and already well documented. However, the characters Short portrayed on SCTV were so hysterical that he ended up bringing most of them with him when he joined Saturday Night Live’s “all-star” cast in 1984. The bits he left behind, though, still showcased Short’s gift for physical comedy.
Short returns to his sketch comedy roots in a new NBC variety show costarring another SNL alum Maya Rudolph (who’ll be getting her very own Sketchy MVP feature soon… very soon…) that kicked off this week. But for now, watch a few of Martin’s standout moments from SCTV (a few of which you may also remember from his time on SNL).
You might remember seeing this particular character at a deli with Gumby on SNL (or maybe even more recently with another of Short’s beloved characters, Jiminy Glick). Before that, though, Short’s parody of old Tin Pan Alley songsmiths made many appearances on SCTV, including in The William B. Williams Show. Hearing the aging Cohen end every song with “Da-da-da-da-dee, da-da-da-da-dah, ah, whatever da hell else ya wanna put in da t’ing” will never get old… unlike him, who last we check was (technically) 90.
“Jackie, We Hardly Knew Ye”
Another character that also appeared on SNL, Jackie Rogers Jr. was possibly creepier than he was funny, maybe because the albino crooner proved to be an accurate portrayal of the eccentric celebrities it was parodying? (side note: Jackie Rogers Jr. also happens to be a favorite Short’s castmate Maya Rudolph) In the sketch above, we learn the true story of Jackie’s upbringing as he attempts his toughest acting challenge: playing his father.
This game show parody takes the premise of SCTV’s “High Q” sketch and goes even further with the concept of moronic contestants. You could even argue that Short’s simpleton contestant Lawrence laid ground work for another one of his beloved moments on SNL.
“Jerry Lewis in ‘Scenes from an Idiot’s Marriage’”
Short was also excellent at doing impersonations. So excellent that thanks to him, we can imagine what an Ingmar Bergman drama about a failing marriage would look like starring Jerry Lewis.
“Ed Grimley: The Fella Who Couldn’t Wait For Christmas”
Yup, another character that Short brought with him from SCTV to SNL. Yet Short’s oddball of a character was so beloved that it even got its own Saturday morning cartoon series. The truth is, there’s just something so delightful in watching Grimley overthink… Well, anything, whether it’s while struggling to maintain his excitement for Christmas (as seen above) or starring in a film about Billy The Kid. Comedy may be filled with plenty of manchilds, but Ed Grimley will always have a special place in our hearts.