If this were an average year in show business, we would be on the cusp of yet another Emmy Awards ceremony awarding the best and the brightest in the sphere of television. While the talent nominated is undoubtedly top-notch, this year has been anything but average, as the industry is reeling from the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and thus the Emmy Awards have been pushed back to January 2024. This is especially unfortunate considering the notable Canadian talent that has been nominated for the upcoming ceremony, but as I watch the latest season of the fantastic comedy series Only Murders in the Building, it has quickly become clear to me that none are more deserving than its standout performer, Martin Short.
Short is a comedy legend who has done everything from being a cast member on Saturday Night Live to a string of successful comedies in the ‘80s and ‘90s, often with his longtime friend and comedy partner, Steve Martin, who is Short’s co-star in Only Murders in the Building (in addition to Martin being the show’s co-creator, along with John Hoffman). My earliest personal memory of Short is seeing him in the wonderfully entertaining science fiction comedy Innerspace, which I have not seen since I was a child in the ‘90s, but the fact I remember this speaks not only to the quality of the Joe Dante movie but also Short’s ability to stand out as a performer in any given production.
And Only Murders in the Building is no exception, which sees Short playing a legendary theatre director named Oliver Putnam, and the results are hilarious. While this show is positively brimming with strong, memorable, and surprisingly nuanced characters, Oliver Putnam is undoubtedly the show’s breakout character, thanks in no small part to what is arguably a career-best performance from the actor.
The strength of Short’s work has never been more apparent than in the third season, which as of writing is still ongoing. While the show features three central characters, played by Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez, there has been the sense that every season subtly features a more prominent story arc for each of them. It seems to be Short’s turn in the show’s third season, and my, oh my, he has not disappointed. The comedy actor has delivered some of the show’s biggest laughs this season, and it’s becoming ever more apparent that Short has somehow upped his game yet again, chewing up any scene he is in by seamlessly conveying Oliver’s kinetic body language and sharp, biting wit, sprinkled with refreshing moments of vulnerability beneath all his grandiose. He owes the writers a great debt, but Short very much makes the role his own.
Which brings me to the Emmys, as Short has been nominated for season two, not the season currently airing, yet he is already considered one of the favourites to win the trophy, and he is surely a shoo-in for another nomination next year given the sheer strength of his work in season three so far. So, if Short falls…well, short in the upcoming Emmy Awards, both this ceremony and the next – and stranger things have happened, such as Nick Offerman never receiving a single Emmy nomination for his performance as Ron Swanson – he can still hold his head high knowing that he may have delivered the best character yet in his already storied career.