At 73 years old, Martin Short has this physical status:
When Short graduated from McMaster University, he intended to pursue a career in social work; however, he became interested in acting once he was cast in a Toronto production of Godspell that same year. Among other members of that production's cast were Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, and Andrea Martin; Paul Shaffer was the musical director. Short stated in the documentary Love, Gilda that he and Gilda Radner dated each other on and off during that time.
He was subsequently cast in several television shows and plays, including the drama Fortune and Men's Eyes (1972). He worked solely in Canada through 1979. In 1979, Short starred in the US sitcom The Associates about a group of young novice lawyers working at a Wall Street law firm. In 1980, he joined the cast of I'm a Big Girl Now, a sitcom starring Diana Canova and Danny Thomas. Canova was offered the sitcom because of her success playing Corinne Tate Flotsky on ABC's Soap and left Soap shortly before Short's newlywed wife Nancy Dolman joined it.
Short was encouraged to pursue comedy by McMaster classmates Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas, whom he joined in the improvisation group The Second City in Toronto, Ontario, in 1977. He came to public notice when the group produced a show for television, Second City Television (SCTV), which ran for several years in Canada, then the United States. Short appeared on SCTV in 1982–83. At SCTV, Short developed several characters before moving on to Saturday Night Live for the 1984–85 season:
Short joined Saturday Night Live (SNL) for the 1984–85 season. He helped revive the show with his many characters for season ten (the last one produced by Dick Ebersol). "Short's appearance on SNL helped to revive the show's fanbase, which had flagged after the departure of Eddie Murphy, and in turn, would launch his successful career in films and television." His SNL characters included numerous holdovers from his SCTV days, most notably, his Ed Grimley character, depicted on Saturday Night Live as a geeky everyman who is obsessed with Wheel of Fortune, plays the triangle, and often finds himself in bizarre situations rather than a miscast bad actor in several film and TV show parodies (The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley used the SNL characterization of him rather than the SCTV take on him). He also did impressions of such celebrities as Jerry Lewis and Katharine Hepburn.
Since then he has made multiple appearances on the show including on the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special in 2015.
In addition to his work on SCTV and SNL, Short has starred in several television specials and series of his own. In 1985, Short starred in the one-hour Showtime special Martin Short: Concert for the North Americas. This was Short's first live concert, interspersed with studio sketches and a wraparound featuring Jackie Rogers Jr. Co-produced by the CBC, this aired as The Martin Short Comedy Special in Canada in March 1986. In 1989, Short headlined another one-hour comedy special, this time for HBO, I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood, Short's classic send-up of all things Hollywood. It featured many of his characters including Ed Grimley and Jackie Rogers Jr.
Short has had three television shows called The Martin Short Show, including a sitcom, The Martin Short Show, 1994; a sketch comedy show, The Show Formerly Known as the Martin Short Show, 1995; and a syndicated talk show The Martin Short Show, which ran from 1999 to 2000.
Short starred as Jiminy Glick on Comedy Central's Primetime Glick (2001–2003). He interviewed performers and celebrities as the character Jiminy Glick. The New York Times in 2002 referred to the character as "the most unpredictable and hilariously uninhibited comic creation to hit TV since Bart Simpson was in diapers."
In addition to his own series, Short has guest starred on several shows including Arrested Development (episode titled "Ready, Aim, Marry Me", 2005), Muppets Tonight (1996), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Weeds. He joined the FX drama Damages as lawyer Leonard Winstone in 2010.
Short voiced the Cat in the Hat in the animated TV series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, which aired from 2010 to 2013. He later voiced the character in a number of related TV specials in 2014 and 2016.
He shot a new comedy special for television in Toronto in September 2011. The special, I, Martin Short, Goes Home follows his return to his native Hamilton, Ontario and has a cast that includes Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty, and Fred Willard. The special aired on CBC Television on April 3, 2012, and garnered Short a nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Program or Series at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards. In 2011, Short joined the cast of How I Met Your Mother for its seventh season, playing Marshall's manic boss and was a judge on the first season of Canada's Got Talent (2012).
He, along with Steve Martin and Chevy Chase appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live as part of the "Five-Timers Club", on March 9, 2013, which included those actors who had hosted the show five or more times. However, Short appeared as a waiter, as he had only hosted twice.
From 2014 to 2015, he starred in the Fox sitcom Mulaney, as Lou Cannon, the boss and the game show host of the title character John Mulaney.
On May 31, 2016, Short debuted a new variety show on NBC, Maya & Marty, which also starred Maya Rudolph.
His most recent credit is Only Murders in the Building, a Hulu comedy series, in which he stars and executive produces alongside Steve Martin and Selena Gomez. In July 2022, he received his 13th Emmy nomination for his role in Only Murders in the Building.
After doing sketch comedy for several years, Short starred in Three Amigos, Innerspace, The Big Picture, Captain Ron, Clifford, Three Fugitives (1989), directed by Francis Veber, with Nick Nolte and James Earl Jones; he was the memorable scene-stealing character "Franck" in the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride and its sequel; and in Pure Luck (1991), directed by Nadia Tass, with Danny Glover and Sheila Kelley.
In 1996, he appeared in Tim Burton's sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks! as lascivious Press Secretary Jerry Ross. In 1997, he appeared as Wall Street broker Richard Kempster in Jungle 2 Jungle, with Tim Allen.
In 2004, he wrote and starred in Jiminy Glick in Lalawood with Jan Hooks as his wife, Dixie Glick. In 2006, he starred in another movie with Tim Allen, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.
Short also provided the voices of several animated film characters, such as Stubbs in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Hubie in The Pebble and the Penguin, Huy in The Prince of Egypt, Ooblar in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, B.E.N. in Treasure Planet, Preminger in Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, Thimbletack the Brownie in The Spiderwick Chronicles, Stefano the sea lion in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Kurokawa in the English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, and The Jester in Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.
Short was the host of the defunct Walt Disney World attractions O Canada!, a Circle-Vision 360° film in the Epcot theme park's Canada pavilion, and "The Making of Me" at Epcot's Wonders of Life pavilion, a 15-minute movie about how pregnancy occurs.
Short starred in the Netflix original The Willoughbys (2020) as the impolite father.
Short resumed work in the theatre, playing a lead role in the 1993 musical version of the Neil Simon film The Goodbye Girl, on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination and an Outer Critics Circle Award. He had the lead role in the 1999 Broadway revival of the musical Little Me, for which he received a Tony Award and another Outer Critics Circle Award.
In 2003, Short took to the stage once again in the critically acclaimed Los Angeles run of The Producers. Short played the role of the accountant, Leo Bloom, opposite Jason Alexander's Max Bialystock. Although the role of Leo Bloom was originated on Broadway by Matthew Broderick, Mel Brooks first approached Short about doing the part opposite Nathan Lane. On the subject, Short has stated in numerous interviews that, while he was thrilled by the opportunity, the idea of having to move his family from their Los Angeles home to New York for a year was less than ideal and ultimately proved a deal-breaker.
Short performed in his satirical one-man show, with a cast of six, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. The show toured several cities in the spring of 2006, prior to opening on Broadway in August 2006; the show closed in January 2007. In it, he performed his classic characters Grimley, Cohen, and Glick.
As Glick, Short brought a member of the audience (usually a celebrity) on stage and interviewed him or her. Jerry Seinfeld was the guest on opening night. The show also featured parodies of many celebrities including Celine Dion, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Tommy Tune, Joan Rivers, Britney Spears, Ellen DeGeneres, Renée Zellweger, Jodie Foster, Rachael Ray, and Short's wife, actress Nancy Dolman. The cast album was released on April 10, 2007, and is available from Ghostlight Records, an imprint of Sh-K-Boom Records.
Short has continued to tour in his one-man show, which features many of his best-loved characters and sketches. In addition to Fame Becomes Me, some titles that Short has used for his one-man show include Stroke Me Lady Fame, If I'd Saved, I Wouldn't Be Here, and Sunday in the Park with George Michael. Short's memoir, covering his 40-year career in show business, I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, was released on November 4, 2014.
Since 2015, Short has toured with fellow comedian Steve Martin. Together they tours have included A Very Stupid Conversation in 2015, An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life in 2017, and The Funniest Show in Town at the Moment in 2021. With their 2017 tour, it was filmed for Netflix as a special and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards.