NEW YORK — “Saturday Night Live” is welcoming two prominent up-and-comers to this week's show.
Guest hosting the special Christmas edition will be a brilliant Canadian-born comic, Martin Short.
The musical guest? Breakout singer-songwriter Paul McCartney.
“I think he's from Europe,” Short ventured, tongue-in-cheek, at the mention of McCartney's name. “People say he's got potential!”
The show, airing at 11:30 p.m. on NBC, has plenty of potential, with these two masters headlining its comedy and merriment.
Short will be back at a former workplace. Now 62, he was an “SNL” regular during the 1984-85 season, before returning as guest host in 1986 and 1996, then making cameo appearances in 2005 and 2006. It's the fourth appearance as musical guest for McCartney, 70.
How did “SNL” happen to book this pair of for-all-ages favorites?
“The Christmas show has to have an emotional component,” explained “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels. “Besides, we have a long break following that show, when people are going to have lots of time to talk about it. So it's always better to leave on a high note.”
Short's resume includes films, stage performances and concerts, but many viewers remember him fondly from TV, and particularly from the landmark sketch show “SCTV” in the early 1980s. It was there that he introduced such characters as doddering tunesmith Irving Cohen and odd man-child Ed Grimley.
Some 30 years later, “Marty remains totally contemporary,” Michaels said Monday. “And the ('SNL') cast just adores him. He's one of those people that a younger generation who does this kind of work connects with — and has held onto fast.”
Short said he didn't anticipate butterflies when returning to his old haunts.
“I continually work in front of audiences, doing concerts here and there, so it keeps me loose,” Short said. “You realize that the audience isn't so interested in every joke being perfect. What they want, after the show, is to be able to say, 'I felt like I had a hang with him. … He looked like he was having fun.'
“When I'm in front of an audience, I'm very loose,” Short said. “I get pumped, but I don't get scared like I did years ago.”