Martin Short and Maya Rudolph
By Darlene Donloe
NBC recently rolled out its crop of summer programming. One of the shows expected to bring the laughter is Maya & Marty, a new variety show starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.
Rudolph and Short are two artists who know funny.
It stands to reason that together, the two of them will be 2 funny.
The show is set to premiere May 31, on NBC. The show, according to both Rudolph and Short, hasn’t been shot yet and hasn’t been fully defined. What they do know is that it’s a variety show, which is right up Rudolph’s alley. In May 2014, she had her own primetime special, The Maya Rudolph Show.
Each week Maya & Marty will air live and feature music, sketches and celebrities.
As comedy veterans both Rudolph and Short have extensive credentials. For years Rudolph has starred in comedy films, but is best known for her stint on the comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live. Short also honed his craft on Saturday Night Live.
The two comedians came together recently to talk about the show and their unlikely pairing.
Q: Martin, what kind of working relationship has been formed?
MS: We both come from improvisation. I’m Second City, she’s The Groundlings. It’s kind of loose. That looseness is great.
Q: Maya, you did a comedy show briefly about a year ago. In what way will this show be different?
MR: The show I did before is a precursor to this. When I left SNL (Saturday Night Live), I wanted to continue this. I wanted to be at the best possible place. We are both performers. That was the natural desire for doing the variety show. I was waiting for it to be right. It wasn’t right. I made a glass loafer. I was going around the village to see who could fit the shoe.
Q: You both are producers on the show. Are both of you involved in writing the show?
MR: Yes, we will be very involved with the writing.
Q: The show is based in New York.
MS: It’s now in 30 ROCK. It’s down the hall from the Jimmy Fallon show. It’s a variety show. It’s called The Tonight Show, but it’s The Jimmy Fallon Show. People question, ‘Is variety going to come back?’ It is back. Hopefully the gimmick of this one is: strong entertainers.
Q: Who thought of doing this show?
MR: Lorne (Michaels) and I have talked about the special I did a while ago. I said I’d like to do something with Marty. He said yeah. He paired us up for the 40th Anniversary show to see how we’d fit. It was a nice blind date.
Q: You’re going to have other people on the show helping you to bring the funny.
MR: You have got to be able to drink with them. You have to like the people you work with. I feel I know I’m going to be funny when I’m with someone who is funnier than I am.
Q: Maya, how much was Carol Burnett an influence?
MR: Carol has always been a direct influence. If they made a Carol Burnett IV, I would have used one. I was lucky enough to grill Carol about her show and I just don’t think anybody did it better. You can not fabricate that. That’s what made it so joyous.
Q: Are you worried about people liking the show?
MS: If the jokes aren’t perfect, but the people are having a good time, that’s a good show. That is more contagious than a well-structured joke. The feel of the show is going to be loose and fun.
Q: When did you first know you were funny?
MR: I used to reenact things I would see on television. I watched Sanford & Son and I’d do a dance called the heart attack based on Redd Foxx’s move. I weirdly had the hairstyle Roseanne Roseannadanna had. I did shows in the living room. I was always performing. I was aware as a kid that I could cheer a friend up by making them laugh.
MS: Performers all have a similar story. I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t care about science. I was a fan of Richard Kildare’s work. I grew up the youngest of five children and all of them were funny. It was trickle down comedy. I think that I was able to copy my siblings, but do it with more confidence.
Q: Talk about what skits have been shot already.
MS: We haven’t shot anything yet.
MR: There will be a lot of nudity. Like wall to wall. Nonstop. Full frontal. Full backal.
Maya & Marty is executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Rudolph and Short will produce along with Marc Gurvitz, Erin David, Matt Roberts and Dave Becky.