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Mom will tickle it out of you

Maya Rudolph balances kids, an against-type role on 'Up All Night' and fits of giggles with 'SNL.'

June 08, 2012|Glenn Whipp
  • Maya Rudolph has a new show, "Up All Night."
Maya Rudolph has a new show, "Up All Night." (Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles…)

Maya Rudolph was five years into her stint on "Saturday Night Live" when she gave birth to her first child, daughter Pearl Minnie, in October 2005. The one-two hosting punch of Steve Martin and Prince lured her back to work four months later, though Rudolph had to drastically alter her late-night lifestyle since she was now up at 3 a.m. for an altogether different reason.

"With 'SNL,' I'd always be procrastinating, writing at 6 in the morning, playing with a farting key chain, trying to come up with something funny," Rudolph says. "After the baby, you don't want to go out. You don't want to play with the farting key chain. You just want to go home."

Rudolph's "SNL" writing partner Emily Spivey had the same experience after her son was born, inspiring her to create the NBC comedy "Up All Night." Spivey wrote a part for Rudolph, casting her against type as a career-first daytime talk show host who's baffled by children.

"It's a real stretch," Spivey says, "because Maya is such an earth mother and so at ease with her own kids."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, June 13, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Maya Rudolph: An article in the June 8 Envelope section about comic actress Maya Rudolph misspelled the last name of her late mother, singer Minnie Riperton, as Ripperton.

Rudolph now has three, including 2-year-old daughter Lucille and a son, Jack, born last July, with filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. She left "SNL" five years ago, but she never really left the place. Certainly the place never left her. Rudolph, 39, returned in February, hosting perhaps the best episode in a season that boasted many inspired moments and intensifying nomination buzz about her work on both "SNL" and "Up All Night." She talked with the Envelope recently about going back to the place she calls home.

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You'd been back to "SNL" several times. Was hosting a big deal?

I used to call myself the Ghost of [Studio] 8H because I'd been back so often. But not as host. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a brush, pretending to be the host. I'm an "SNL" addict. There should be some sort of support group.

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I can't remember a more consistently funny episode than your show. How much was planned?

Nothing. It was very last-minute. I had only one idea, the monologue where I sang "Do You Wanna Funk."

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Detailing your rather sordid history of having slept with everyone -- cast members, pages, Paul Simon -- while on "SNL."

I thought it was funny because it was so atypical of my experience there. It was really clean-cut. But we all romanticize the '70s when the original cast was frolicking over to Studio 54 with Warren Beatty.

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And when you were there, it was just you and that farting key chain.

Which was fine. I didn't want to be anywhere else. Years ago, when I was still doing the Groundlings, my dad told me, "As a woman, I think it's important for you to write, to have a voice." I thought I'd just be a performer. It took me a long time to understand that writing gives you a voice, an advantage.

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No one knows you better than you.

You write what you're good at. For years as an actor, I felt powerless. It's no fun waiting for people to give you jobs. It really messes with your head. It makes you feel like there's something wrong with you.

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Was your dad at the show? That bumper photo of you dressed in overalls like your mom (the late soul singer Minnie Ripperton) on her "Perfect Angel" album cover was beautiful.

He was in the audience. I watched him watching it when it came on. My dad [composer and music producer Richard Rudolph] knows how "SNL" is such a big deal to me. I'm such a sap. When I think of him being proud of his daughter, I get teary. The photo reminded us all that I wish she was here to enjoy this. With that photo, I kind of gave her a wink to say hi, so she kind of was there.

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She was there ... along with Bill O'Reilly. It was surreal to see him tapping his loafer on "What Up With That."

That was so weird. He came up to me and said, "We love you." And we high-fived. I did not know I was on Bill O'Reilly's radar. Then I had the luxury of standing next to a Sports Illustrated model [Kate Upton]. That's always fun for a lady that's had three kids.

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Just part of the magic of the night ...

Amy [Poehler] and I talked about it later. There was something palpable and magical about that night. I really felt joyful. And that's so rare. I'm a professional self-beater-upper. That's what I do. But I went home feeling really good.

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calendar@latimes.com

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