Martin has been equally prolific in the world of theater, winning Tony Awards for both My Favorite Year and the 2013 revival of Pippin. Martin also appeared on Broadway in Candide, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein, Exit the King and Act One. She has received five nominations for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, more than any other actress in the award's history. She received her first nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the 2016 revival of Noises Off.
Andrea Martin was born in 1947 in Portland, Maine, the eldest of three children of Sybil A. (née Manoogian) and John Papazian Martin. Her paternal grandparents were Armenian immigrants who moved to the U.S. from Turkey to escape the Armenian Genocide. Her maternal grandparents were Armenians from Yerevan and Istanbul. Her father owned Martin's Foods, a grocery store chain.
Soon after graduating from Emerson College, Martin won a role in a touring company of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. After frequent visits to Toronto, she relocated from New York City to Toronto in 1970 and immediately found steady work in television, film, and theater.
In 1972, Martin played the character of Robin in a Toronto production of Godspell, with a company that included future stars Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Victor Garber, and musical director Paul Shaffer. Two of her early film appearances were in 1973's Cannibal Girls for which she won the Sitges Film Festival Award for Best Actress, and, in 1974, as the bookish sorority sister Phyllis in Black Christmas, a Canadian slasher film.
In 1976, she joined then-unknowns John Candy, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty on the Canadian sketch comedy television series, SCTV, which was set at fictional television station "Second City Television", or SCTV, in Melonville. Martin most notably portrayed leopard-print-wearing station manager Edith Prickley, whose dealings with the staff, including president/owner Guy Caballero, clueless newscaster Earl Camembert, and washed-up actor Johnny LaRue, helped to provide much of the show's humor. Her talent for impersonation was key in her humorous portrayals of Barbra Streisand, Ethel Merman, Arlene Francis, Pauline Kael, Sally Field, Sophia Loren, Beverly Sills, Lynn Redgrave, Linda Lavin, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli, Connie Francis, Mother Teresa, Joni Mitchell, Alice B. Toklas, Patti Smith, Brenda Vaccaro and Indira Gandhi. In 1981, Martin was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Variety Show for her work in SCTV.
Her 1970s stage work eventually included the Toronto branch of the improvisational comedy troupe The Second City, a group which produced almost the entire cast of SCTV. In 1992, she made her Broadway debut in the musical My Favorite Year, for which she won the Tony Award, Theatre World Award, and Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Additional Broadway credits include Candide (1997) and Oklahoma! (2002), and the Broadway premiere of Young Frankenstein (2007), all of which brought her Tony Award nominations for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Martin starred alongside Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon in the Broadway revival of Exit the King. For her performance as Juliette, she was nominated for a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award. She wrote and performed in the critically acclaimed one-woman show Nude, Nude, Totally Nude in Los Angeles and New York City, receiving a 1996 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One Person Show.
Other theater credits include the leads in The Rose Tattoo and Betty's Summer Vacation, for which she won the Elliot Norton Award for Best Actress, both produced at The Huntington Theatre in Boston. During the winter of 2012–2013, she played Berthe, Pippin's grandmother, in the American Repertory Theater production of Pippin in Cambridge, Massachusetts, singing the classic song "No Time At All". The show transferred to Broadway at the Music Box Theatre and opened in April 2013. For Pippin Martin won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Martin's last performance as Berthe in the Broadway production of Pippin was on September 22, 2013. She appeared on Broadway in the new play written and directed by James Lapine, Act One, for which she received the Outer Critics Circle Award.
Martin has played Wanda the Word Fairy in numerous short segments on Sesame Street. She also appeared on Kate & Allie as the executive producer of a low-rated cable channel, which was spun-off into her own CBS series, Roxie. Star Trek fans may recognize her as one of two actresses to play Ishka, Quark's iconoclastic mother on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. For her role, she was made up to appear as an older woman, although in reality, Martin is less than three years older than Armin Shimerman, who played Quark.
She has won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program in 1982 and 1983. She has done considerable voice work in such animated film and television productions such as Anastasia, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Rugrats as Aunt Miriam, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue as Muriel - Floyd's Wife, The Simpsons (as Apu's mother), Recess as Lunchlady Harriet, the 1999 version of The Woody Woodpecker Show, Earthworm Jim, Kim Possible, The Buzz On Maggie, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Brother Bear 2. She also appeared in the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy starring Bette Midler.
In 1997, Martin starred in the television series Life... and Stuff.
Her screen credits include All Over the Guy in which she played Dan Bucatinsky's Mom, Club Paradise, Wag the Dog, All I Want for Christmas, Worth Winning, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Stepping Out, The Producers, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in which she portrayed Aunt Voula, a role she reprised in the small-screen adaptation, My Big Fat Greek Life, and the 2016 sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. In 2006, she played a major role in the remake of Black Christmas. She played Helaine in the 2009 breakout independent film Breaking Upwards. In the episode titled Pupil, she played an emergency room patient on the Showtime series, Nurse Jackie, which was aired July 27, 2009. In 2012, she provided the voice of Penny in the American Dad! episode "Stan's Best Friend" and appeared in an episode of 30 Rock titled "My Whole Life Is Thunder." Martin recently appeared in Night at the Museum 3 and Hulu's original series, Difficult People, starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner and produced by Amy Poehler. It premiered August 5, 2015. She played Prudy Pingleton on Hairspray Live!, which aired on December 7, 2016.
She appears in the NBC sitcom Working the Engels.
Martin recently performed as Dotty Otley in the limited run Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Noises Off, directed by Jeremy Herrin. Martin was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance.
Martin tours throughout Canada and the United States in her one-woman show, Andrea Martin: Final Days, Everything Must Go! with her musical director Seth Rudetsky.
Martin is an American citizen. She was previously married to Bob Dolman and has two sons with him, Joe and Jack. Her two sons have dual Canadian-American status due to their father's Canadian citizenship.
Since 2000, Martin has been a prominent spokesperson for the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) and host of their annual gala.Martin, Andrea (2014). Andrea Martin's Lady Parts. Harper. ISBN 978-0062387288.