Along with Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, Maya Rudolph is part of a very welcome trend of female comedians getting lots of well-deserved attention. Still, Rudolph isn’t quite as ubiquitous in pop culture as her peers: although she was hysterical in Bridesmaids, the 2011 hit was very much Wiig’s movie, and her sitcom, NBC’s Up All Night, was on deathwatch well before the recently announced departure of Christina Applegate. With Deadline reporting a long list of networks looking to give Rudolph her own variety show, we thought we’d offer some of our own ideas for what the hilarious SNL alumna should tackle next.
Try Her Hand at Music
Rudolph’s dabbled in a musical career before, which isn’t surprising considering that her mother is famed chanteuse Minnie Riperton. Prior to her most famous gig, the seven-year run on SNL that made her a household name, she sang backing vocals and even played the keyboard for The Rentals, the 1990s group fronted by Weezer bassist Matt Sharp. Rudolph could take any number of directions with her vocal chops, but we’d love to see her capitalize on the recent musical theater trend with a scripted show of her own — the smart network sitcom has been done many times over, and Rudolph deserves to put her own stamp on less well-tread comedic ground (since Glee hasn’t been funny for two seasons, it doesn’t count). Should that fall through, there’s always Broadway; if The Book of Mormon has proven anything, it’s that laughs can bring in the Tonys.
Return to the Rom-Com
Perhaps the most underrated of Rudolph’s many successes is Away We Go, the pregnancy comedy-drama that’s like a more mature, less twee version of Juno. Rudolph and John Krasinski play Verona and Burt, a happy couple looking for a place to raise their first child, and stop by Phoenix, Madison, and Montreal before settling on Verona’s childhood home. Helped along by direction from Sam Mendes and a script co-written by Dave Eggers, Rudolph nonetheless manages to stand out in her own right: the chemistry with Krasinski is excellent, and Verona is certainly funny, but in a more subtle way than most SNL characters. Starting off a post-Up All Night acting career with another well-written romantic comedy (which there aren’t nearly enough of these days, anyway) would set Rudolph up nicely for more big-screen turns, and maybe even a few dramatic roles.
Head Up Her Own Talk Show
It’s increasingly common knowledge that comedians make excellent hosts; Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both conduct interviews in addition to lampooning the day’s news, and Kathy Griffin’s brand-new show on Bravo has quickly become one of the bedrocks of a network attempting to fight its reputation as the home of trashy reality TV. Rudolph would be a less abrasive host than the notoriously outspoken Griffin, and may even bring the comedy street cred of Zach Galifianakis’s cult hit Between Two Ferns off the Internet and onto the small screen. Rudolph is more than witty enough to bring out the best in her guests, and talk shows are an excellent way to build up a fan base and maintain a consistent presence without overloading audiences with new material.