The 2017 Great American Comedy Festival presents Martin Short
Saturday Evening Gala
Martin Short, a celebrated comedian and actor, has won fans and accolades in television, film and theater since his breakout season on “Saturday Night Live” over 30 years ago.
Short won his first Emmy in 1982 while working on Canada’s SCTV Comedy Network, which brought him to the attention of the producers of “SNL.” He became an “SNL” fan-favorite for his portrayal of characters such as Ed Grimley, lawyer Nathan Thurm and “legendary songwriter” Irving Cohen.
His popularity and exposure on “SNL” led Short to cross over quickly into feature films. He made his debut in “Three Amigos” and followed with “Innerspace,” “Three Fugitives,” “Clifford,” “Pure Luck” and “Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks.” One of Short’s most memorable roles was in the remake of “Father of the Bride” as Franck the wedding planner, a role he reprised a few years later in “Father of the Bride Part II.” Short lent his voice to the animated film “Madagascar 3” and Tim Burton’s Oscar-nominated “Frankenweenie.”
An accomplished stage actor, Short won a Tony, Theatre World Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for his role in the revival of “Little Me.” He was also nominated for a Tony and took home an Outer Critics Circle Award for the musical version of Neil Simon’s “The Goodbye Girl.” Short co-wrote and starred in “Fame Becomes Me,” prompting The New York Times to describe Short as “a natural for live musicals, a limber singer and dancer who exudes a fiery energy that makes you want to reach for your sunglasses.” Short most recently appeared on Broadway in Terrence McNally’s “It’s Only a Play.”
A two-time primetime Emmy winner and multi-nominated for both primetime and daytime Emmys, Short returned to television in 1998 for the miniseries “Merlin” and host of “The Martin Short Show.” In 2001, he launched the popular comedy “Primetime Glick and in 2010 received critical acclaim for his role in FX’s drama series Damages.”Short has also returned to “SNL” as host three times, and performed in the series’ landmark 40 th anniversary special in February 2015. Other recent television credits include “Mulaney,” “How I Met Your Mother” and the critically acclaimed PBS series “Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That.”Short will co-star with Maya Rudolph on his new weekly NBC variety show series “Maya and Marty in Manhattan” starting May 31st.
Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award recipient, Robert Klein
Saturday Evening Gala
Saturday Night Lineup also featuring:
Friday Night Lineup
Thursday Night Magic Show Lineup featuring:
Saturday Afternoon Writer's Panel
The Great American Comedy Festival was created in 2008 to pay tribute to the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson.
That same vision continues to hold true today.
Honoring his legacy as one of America’s greatest comedians ever, paying tribute to his status as a TV icon and remembering with gratitude the fondness Carson had for the community he called home – that’s the foundation of the Great American Comedy Festival.
He was born Oct. 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa, to Homer “Kit” and Ruth Carson. But in 1933, the family moved to Norfolk. Six years later, Carson began his life as an entertainer, and he never stopped. He graduated from Norfolk High School in 1943, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1949. By 1962, he took over as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and continued entertaining television audiences for30 years.
In 1981, he returned to Norfolk to tape “Johnny Goes Home,” a documentary on his life. In 1992, he retired from “The Tonight Show.”He died on Jan. 23, 2005. When Norfolk’s previous community festival ended in 2006, an editorial in the Norfolk Daily News suggested creating a new festival in honor of Carson’s memory. With that, the Great American Comedy Festival was born.
Eighteen months of planning led to the inaugural festival in June 2008. It’s been a mid-June tradition ever since, growing each year in stature and scope. In 2012, the festival was named Nebraska’s outstanding tourism event among the state’s larger cities.
The festival continues its focus on Johnny Carson. His talent and career were hailed by many, but the words of David Letterman, a longtime friend of Carson’s, perhaps say it best of all: “All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again.”