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August 04, 2017

Fun on the Run

Andrea Martin just says yes.

Mike Flaherty
  • Don Dixon

There’s something so perfect about Andrea Martin’s first show-biz break: she was hired as a singing chicken on the kids’ classic Captain Kangaroo.

She got the gig when she was spotted handing out leaflets for a Times Square chicken restaurant. “Dreams can come true!” she guffaws.

Her tone is ironic, but the sentiment is all too real. Nearly 50 years later, Martin remains in demand, a kind of stealth star who can be relied on to infuse any project with battiness, brilliance and all stops in between.

One of her current roles is Marilyn, the wily psychiatrist mom of Julie Klausner’s character on Hulu’s Difficult People, which begins its third season August 8. “Critical, manipulative, fiercely independent” is how Martin describes her. “But,” she adds, “I honestly believe that she comes from a place of real love and devotion to her daughter — it’s just the way she expresses it.”

Martin has also been plying her fictional-mom skills on NBC’s Great News, where she’s Carol, mother of series star Briga Heelan and a suburban counterpart to Marilyn’s urbane professional. “I get to play the gamut of my mothering style,” she explains. “In bringing up my two sons, I’ve dabbled in all those emotions.”

Of course, for viewers of a certain age, Martin is treasured as a cast member of SCTV, the long-running Canadian sketch comedy, where she was particularly known as the manic, leopard skin–clad Edith Prickley (she also won two Emmys writing for the show).

She went on to a celebrated theater career (snagging two Tonys along the way) and near-ubiquity on television, guesting on everything from Modern Family and American Dad! to 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie and SpongeBob SquarePants. There even was a recurring gig of more than 20 years on Sesame Street.

“The trajectory of my life has been [toward] just saying yes.” Of her more recent choices, she says: “Why not just do what’s there and have fun and be grateful?” 

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2017

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