This past Monday I attended the memorial for the beloved director Nicky Martin. The event was held at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, and it was sensational. I’m sure that Nicky would have approved, because the proceedings were uproariously funny, packed with stars, and included a cascade of memorable photos projected on the scrim – there were pictures of Nicky hugging people, Nicky in costume from his days as an actor, and always, Nicky laughing. Almost all of the speakers discussed Nicky’s wildly infectious cackle, and I began to realize that Nicky’s laughter had been designed to make everyone around him feel not only witty and gifted, but appreciated. When I was growing up in New Jersey, I’d dreamed of a life in the theater, amid funny, glamorous, bawdy people, and Nicky’s memorial was a celebration of just that sort of circus. The speakers included Andre Bishop, Jack O’Brien, Kate Burton, Victor Garber, Andrea Martin, Jessica Stone, Christopher Fitzgerald and more. Brooks Ashmanskas, that superb comic whirlwind, had been both a student of Nicky’s, and a treasured friend. Accompanying himself on the piano, Brooks sang For All We Know, which was tremendously moving.
The spirit of the memorial was exemplfied by the blissful Debra Monk, who recalled telling Nicky a filthy joke that made him helpless with laughter. She then said, “Here is that joke. How do you make Martha Stewart scream twice? Fuck her in the ass, and then wipe your dick on her curtains.”