Thirteen years ago Martin Short picked a 12 year old fan out of the audience, brought the fan on stage and performed with him. Today that fan is SNL’s newest cast member.
During an appearance on SiriusXM’s Bennington this week, Saturday Night Live freshman Jon Rudnitsky revealed that he had an encounter with comedian Martin Short that made his inner fan-girl squeal with delight.
Hosts Ron and Gail Bennington were discussing the recent Unmasked event that they did with Short, bringing up the comic’s ability to individually charm each person in the audience, when Rudnitsky mentioned that he’d actually met Short three times before. Rudnitsky was just 12 years old when he first saw Short (performing as his alter-ego, Jiminy Glick) live on stage in Atlantic City. At one point, Short waded into the audience and started talking to Rudnitsky in-character. Rudnitsky, who was a huge fan of the character, started doing a Glick impersonation back at Short, who then took the star-struck kid on stage.
“He came into the audience as Jiminy Glick, I was obsessed with Jiminy Glick, and he came up to people and was talking to them,” Rudnitsky recalled. “He came up to me and I started doing Jiminy Glick with him, and he had me come on stage and do the Three Amigos’ dance. Then I met him backstage after the show.”
Thirteen years later, that 12 year old is an SNL regular and performs comedy across the country.
The encounter was an influential one for Rudnitsky, but it wouldn’t be his last. Earlier this year, a 25 year old Rudnitsky met Short again, on the set of SNL. “A couple months ago, he’s at SNL, I went up to him and told him that story, and of course he doesn’t remember,” the comic said through a smile. “But he was the nicest guy.”
At this year’s Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas, however, Rudnitsky finally got that sweet, sweet recognition from Short that he described as “totally surreal.”
“And then I see him at Moontower, he gets me tickets to his show there, and he’s just as good. First of all, he acknowledges me on stage, which is totally surreal,” Rudnitsky boasted. “He’s talking about SNL and he says ‘My friend Jon,’ and I’m like ‘I’m Jon!’”
Short’s Moontower performance, an hour and a half in which he was running, jumping and dancing around the stage drenched in sweat, “crushed harder than anything [Rudnitsky] had ever seen.” That performance was an inspiration for the comic, who said it motivated him to always give his all on stage.
“I couldn’t help but think ‘I can never have a lazy performance.’ There’s no excuse to not give it everything every time you get up there, and I definitely have done that in the past. Ever since I saw that, it was just so inspiring.”
Anyone who’s watched or met Martin Short can attest that he is a comedic juggernaut and a workhorse, so it’s no wonder that both Rudnitsky and the Benningtons relished their chance to meet the guy.
You can catch the Bennington show every weekday from noon to 3 p.m. on Raw Dog Comedy Hits channel 99, and you can see Rudnitsky on Saturday Night Live when it returns for its 42nd season this fall on NBC.