NBC is hoping that a couple of Saturday Night Live vets can light up Tuesday night as well: Maya Rudolph and Martin Short will team up to headline Maya & Marty, a six-episode variety series debuting May 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. (Current SNL star Kenan Thompson will join them each week as well, and SNL boss Lorne Michaels will serve as executive producer.)
Short and Rudolph were SNL cast members at different times — Short from 1984 to 1985, Rudolph from 2000 to 2007 — and both have returned to host and make cameos over the years. On last year’s SNL 40 anniversary special, the two shared the Studio 8H stage, hosting a segment honoring the history of musical comedy on the show (with Rudolph as Beyoncé). When EW interviewed the duo as they were prepping the launch of their music/sketch series for this week’s issue, we asked them to name their favorite sketch performed by the other person. Here, Rudolph singles out one featuring Jackie Rogers Jr., the bizarro albino Vegas singer that Short played on both SCTV and SNL, while Short praises all of her take(s) on Whitney Houston.
MAYA RUDOLPH: Jackie! Rogers! Junior! (to Short) Is it $10,000 or $100,000?
MARTIN SHORT: (singing theme song) $100,000 Jackpot Waaaad!
RUDOLPH: Jackpot wad! Jesus Christ! Where do I begin? It’s not just him in the sketch, by the way. From top to bottom, that sketch is genius. “Chocolate babies” is something I’ve said my entire life. I’ve been saying “Chocolate babies” out of context for years and everybody that knows it just busts up laughing. I could watch it right now and laugh my ass off.
SHORT: Christopher Guest saying Rajeev Vindaloo. (Both laugh)…. I thought Maya as Whitney [Houston] was just hilarious, but also it was a perfect example of how the more accuracy you bring into the satire, the more powerful the satire and funnier it can be.
RUDOLPH: Well, it took me a long time to realize that the impressions that I did were not impressions; they were just characters. They just give you freedom.
SHORT: And I think Maya does that. I think it’s like a Hirschfeld sketch. You include the warts, but it’s also exaggerations. And I do think that when you do people like that and make it fair, you have to celebrate also why we are interested in them —
RUDOLPH: Why we love them.
SHORT: And why we love them. If you don’t include that part, then it just becomes a mean portrait.
RUDOLPH: Correct. Which is my least favorite thing.
For more from Rudolph and Short, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s new Ultimate Summer Preview Issue, on newsstands now, or buy it here now – and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.