July 27, 1972– Maya Rudolph:
“I don’t look my best when I wake up. But, I do feel beautiful when I’m tired and happy and I’ve had a good laugh and a glass of champagne.”
The NBC brass keeps trying to find the right project for the considerable talents and charisma of Saturday Night Live alumni Maya Rudolph. Three times they attempted to revive the variety show for her, a genre that died several decades ago. I loved variety shows when I was a kid. Today, viewing audiences have a lot of other options, with so many programs available on our smartphones, computers and cable. We can make our own variety mix anytime.
Just when I thought a television variety show was an unnecessary idea, Rudolph had one of my favorite comic moments of the summer on NBC’s Maya & Marty in a brilliant parody of Raymond Chandler films, catching a cheating husband with the help of Sean Hayes’ Burt Cassidy: Gay Detective.
NBC aired The Maya Rudolph Show in 2014 after casting Rudolph is a supporting role as a talk-show host in a grade-C level sitcom Up All Night (2011-12). Last year they tried to give her a spot on the disappointing Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. It was tough to try and watch it as two of my favorite performers worked so hard for so little reward. This summer NBC tried again with Maya & Marty, which was, with six quick episodes, a summer fluff diversion, but still, even with funny Martin Short and smart guests it mostly struggled to make me laugh. But, the show had its very funny moments, especially with Rudolph’s take on Melania Trump as your standard Central European model married to a billionaire, selling diamonds that you eat.
“I love diamond. But we all ask ourself. Why can I not eat it?” Yummy. Made to enjoy. Have a good time today. Gives me the energy I need to sit and wait, or stand and wait.”
Rudolph began her career as a member LA based The Groundlings improv troupe and she found small roles in television and in films like As Good As It Gets (1997), Gattaca (1997) and a recurring role on Chicago Hope (1994-2000). Saturday Night Live scouts saw her perform with the improv group, and she was invited to join the SNL cast in 2000. She became a standout on the long-running show. Rudolph was especially good at impersonations, taking on celebrities like Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey and Donatella Versace. She stayed with SNL for seven seasons, appearing in several films when the show went on hiatus.
Rudolph’s father is Jewish songwriter and producer, Richard Rudolph. Her mother was the fabulous singer Minnie Riperton, who had a huge hit with Lovin’ You (1974), and noted for her amazing 5 1/2 octave range. After moving the family from Florida, to LA when Rudolph was seven years old, her mother died from that damn cancer and Rudolph carried on her mother’s legacy by singing and acting in local theater. She attended Crossroads School in Santa Monica, where her classmates included goopy Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black. After high school, she majored in photography at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she formed the band Super Sauce. She also played keyboards for The Rentals, a Weezer spin-off band in the mid-1990s. She performs with musician Gretchen Lieberum as Princess, doing Prince covers.
On SNL, Rudolph showed a terrific blend of acting and musical talent, mixed in with a comedic sensibility for the absurd. She developed a following with the outrageous characters she created, or, more often, with the real life figures she impersonated with her perfect dead-pan delivery.
Even before her long SNL run had started, Rudolph was already finding roles in films, among my favorites are the dark comedy Chuck And Buck (2000), the musical Duets (both in 2000), opposite her friend Paltrow, Robert Altman‘s A Prairie Home Companion (2006), and Idiocracy (2006). Her biggest box-office hit to date is, of course, the raunchy comedy Bridesmaids (2011), which raked in over $300 million.
Rudolph has stated that she is not surprised she has such a large gay fan base, because she feels like she’s part of it, feeling like an outsider growing up without a mom and being mixed race:
“I went to a super-duper hippie college, UC Santa Cruz, and most of my friends there were either gay or mixed. We were all “others” together. I feel most at home with people who need each other as a family and understand what it’s like to be different.”
Rudolph has been in a relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson since 2001. They live together in LA with their four children.
I am a sucker for a beautiful woman with brilliant comic chops.