DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Winner Andrea Martin

By Andrew Gans
15 Jun 2012

Martin as "Edith Prickley" on "SCTV."

"She has always been one of my comedy idols since I first saw her on 'SCTV,'" Rudetsky e-mailed me last week. "I cannot believe I get to work with her. Even though every show begins with her wondering if the audience will laugh. She literally walks out of her dressing room at 'places' saying, 'Dead man walking!' The audience always l-o-v-e-s the show. Hilarious!"

Martin said she met Rudetsky during her first Broadway outing, the aforementioned Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical My Favorite Year. "He was the second pianist—the substitute pianist. I paid no attention to him then," Martin joked. "And then we met when I did my one-woman show—my first one at the Public Theater. He was my musical director there. He came in, and he auditioned. I auditioned a couple of pianists, and he—honest to God, Andrew—knew every line I'd ever done in 'SCTV.' Characters I couldn't even remember. He had me at, 'I love you.'"

When asked how much singing people can expect at 54 Below, the comedic actress answered, "Well, I haven't measured the ratio, but think of it as a little variety show, but I'm the only guest. And, if I could find a chimp in a tutu, I'd put him in it! It's a little bit of stand-up, a little bit of sketch, a little bit of singing, there's some video, there's interactive stuff with the audience. Really, I'm single-handedly bringing back the variety show."

Martin, whose numerous screen credits include the 1993 TV version of "Gypsy" as well as the megahit film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," said that she's "never done stand-up. It's a whole different animal. But when you're doing this kind of a thing—when you're in really close proximity to an audience—I want to engage with them, so I don't know if you call that stand-up, but there'll certainly be lines that might not be rehearsed and might not be in a paragraph. They might be one-liners."

Although the upcoming engagement marks her own cabaret debut, Martin's career was influenced by attending nightclub performances of another Broadway favorite, two-time Tony winner Chita Rivera. "The reason why I was motivated to get into show business was because of Chita Rivera," Martin said. "My parents have a condominium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. When I was 11—that's when we first started going—she would appear at the nightclub at the El San Juan with male dancers, and I just was hooked. I loved how she engaged with the audience. No fourth wall, really. I just loved that it was a form for personality, and I loved that she felt so loose to be able to break into a dance with two male dancers—which I don't have because I can't afford it. Now Chita and I are the same age, and I'm finally doing a cabaret show! But I've seen many cabaret shows over the years, yes. I love watching them, actually. I just saw Linda Lavin's in New York."