by Andrew Wantuck
This I spoke with Jim Short, who is a hilarious Australian comic that moved to Dallas at the age of 12. He brings a great sense of wit and timing to the stage that eventually landed him a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman. In this interview we spoke about life on the road, what goes through your mind right before you appear on national TV, and if he would rather have Steve Martin's career or David Letterman's.
Andrew: How do you take to life on the road?
Jim: It's great most of the time. The travel can get you down, especially now because traveling is a big hassle. But it's where the gigs are. If you are a comic its what you do.
Sometimes I think I'm an airport seat filler.
Andrew: That has to be tough on relationships and what regular people consider normal. How do you balance that?
Jim: There's nothing normal about it. It's a nomad gypsy existence. You tend to just know people that have the same lifestyle.
Andrew: Can you tell me what goes through a comics mind prior to David Letterman announcing your name for a set?
Jim: It's sheer panic if it's the first time you've done it. All you're thinking is 'I'm about to do Letterman'.The thing is everyone around you is doing their job because they're there everyday. They come up and talk to you, they ask you questions about this and that, they generally are chatting with you. In your mind you're thinking 'Dude, I'm about to do Letterman, leave me alone!'
Andrew: How do you think you did when you go back and watch your [Letterman] set?
Jim: Al Gore was on the show. If you want to be hilarious on national television have Al Gore go first.
Jim: He kind of sets it up cause he is a bit of a downer.
Andrew: Do you get back to Australia a lot?
Jim: You know it's funny, when my Letterman aired in Australia I got mail from a couple of irate Australians saying "You might be fooling the Yanks, but we know better."
Like I'm putting on the whole thing of being Australian or something. They weren't convinced, they thought it was a ruse. Australians can't possibly be proud of somebody.
Andrew: Fifty years from now when we're talking again and we're doing another interview, tell me some of the highlights. What's that going to sound like?
Jim: Am I getting my lifetime achievement award? Well, I'll be 65 at the time. I'd love to in 50 years have had the show, the failed film career to try and leap into, and then sadly going back to stand up because it didn't pan out.
Andrew: [Laughs] Would you have rather had Steve Martin's career or David Letterman's?
Jim: Is this Steve Martin that does Pink Panther movies?
Jim: Then Letterman.
Jim Short will be appearing on the 'Best of the Birthday' Show on Friday, August 7th and Saturday August 8th 2009. Reservations Required (310) 372-1193 or comedyandmagicclub.com.