Perhaps you recall Martin Short and Maya Rudolph (in full Beyoncé glory) performing onstage together at SNL’s 40th anniversary special, or The Maya Rudolph Show, a one-off NBC special from May 2014. Those two TV blips have spawned the new hourlong variety/sketch series Maya & Marty, premiering on Tuesday, May 31, following the season debut of America’s Got Talent.
Lorne Michaels executive produces Maya & Marty, taped in front of a studio audience and featuring comic virtuosos Rudolph, Short, current SNL player Kenan Thompson and lots of special guests spoofing newsworthy people and events. The premiere episode features guests Miley Cyrus, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon and Tom Hanks.
“Maya and I had a really great time doing the 40th anniversary,” Short says. “Our process of working together was kind of immediate. Sometimes you hang with people and you feel like you’ve known them for quite a while, and I think Maya and I felt that.”
Judging from Maya & Marty publicity photos, Rudolph and Short also have a good rapport with … a llama? “The llama is kind of this recurring joke that’s happened on SNL for 40 years, this random llama,” Short explains. He says the llama, which still appears on SNL about every two years, is a running gag about a sketch that’s being cut from the live show. “Even when I was hosting last time a couple years ago, I was singing through the hallways and just passed the llama, and the llama almost took me out. He went in the wrong direction. It was like, ‘On live television you’re going to be crushed by a llama?’ Good epitaph, you know.”
Short has embodied legendary characters like excitable nerd Ed Grimley, portly talk-show host Jiminy Glick and shady spin-master Nathan Thurm, but will any of them appear on Maya & Marty? “The answer comes from, ‘Do you have something relevant to say with that character?’ So if you’re just going to do Ed Grimley because he was popular in the ’80s, that’s not maybe the best thing to do. But if you have a funny new idea that was perfect for Ed Grimley, then you do it.” So Ed Grimley won’t go mental just for the sake of going mental, I must say.
Photo: 2016 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC