Not only had I not realized that the great Andrea Martin is from Portland, Maine, but I did not know until yesterday that she is the daughter of John P. Martin, the late Maine supermarket pioneer and restauranteur.
The comedic actress was on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast yesterday discussing her new memoir Lady Parts and she offered a touching story about an exchange she had with her father near the later part of his life. While I loved my father deeply, her description of her relationship with the elder Martin resonated very much.
I found it especially interesting to learn of Martin’s Maine connections as her face is one of my earliest memories. I used to watch reruns of the first few seasons of Saturday Night Live and the entire run of SCTV with my mother when I was 2 and 3 years old, sparking a lifelong love affair with their respective casts.
This anecdote is pulled together from the very last part of the episode. Martin also discusses growing up Armenian in Portland, working at her father’s stores, and performing in community theater in the 60s.
My dad saw [my success] but never appreciated it. When I won my first Tony, he said, “Now do you think you’ll get a break?” I don’t think he understood—he didn’t understand. He grew up in the 40s and 50s when the people who had made it were Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable and big movie stars. That was his idea of making it so being on SCTV certainly… [He was like] “Jesus Christ! None of my friends thought that was funny; when are you going to do something funny?”
Carol Burnett was funny to him.
don’t think you’re ever going to be 100%. Here’s what we’re not going to get: the unconditional love that we wanted. Let’s accept it and move on. We’re not going to get it, but that’s okay. But I got a lot from my dad, and what I gained was insight.
I’m obsessed with my hair. My dad could only ever comment on what my hair looked like, no matter what I did. It was like, “Why didn’t get get that wig? Why did you have to wear that hairdo?”
We were in a car when he was in his 80s and I was in my 50s and he said, “So is anything going to be coming up? Is anything going to be funnier than I’ve seen you in lately? When do you think you’ll do something funny?” I said, “Daddy, I am in a movie that I think you’ll love. It’s called Hedwig and the Angry Inch and I think it’s really going to be a cult classic.”
“I saw it and I didn’t like it, but your hair looked good,” he said. And it was the first time in my life I ever said to him, “You know, that really hurts me, Dad. All the years you’ve seen me and you’ve never told me that I was good in anything” He turned around and looked out the window and started crying and he said, “Because I don’t know about acting, but I know what looks pretty.” We started to talk and I went to Maine to do some research on him and learned much about him that I didn’t know before.
What are you going to do? You keep looking and searching.
You can hear the entire exchange here.