October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

Syndicated (weekdays; check local listings)

If you’ve ever seen him with David Letterman, you know how Martin, Short can light up a show with his energy, spontaneity and insanity. He’s not as good at being a host as he is at being a guest, but this month-old talk-variety venture is proving to be—as Short’s pointy-haired Ed Grimley character might put it—fairly decent, I must say.

The accent is on comedy, with sketches and on-location bits featuring Short and a troupe of regulars including Mary Scheer (MAD TV) and Kevin McDonald (The Kids in the Hall). Not all the material clicks, but a new Short character called Jiminy Glick (a bloated, effusive entertainment reporter) is as funny as any he played on Saturday Night Live or SCTV. As for the conversation, it ranges from banality (Kelly Preston promoting For Love of the Game) to big laughs (Short exclaiming, “What are you talking about?” when Dennis Miller used the impressive word “übermenschian”). Michael McGrath (Short’s Broadway understudy in Little Me) is a genial if superfluous sidekick who can do a bold pratfall when asked.

Bottom Line: Should make your short list of talk shows

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