Friday, March 07, 2008

Maya Rudolph

Note: If you don’t watch SNL, you might as well skip this post. It’s probably going to feel too inside-joke-ish to you.

Remember way back in March of 2005, when I wrote that I very much admired Maya Rudolph, but that I was too lazy to write a long post about her? No? You didn’t read my blog back then? Oh. Well, that’s unders— What’s that? You say nobody read my blog back then? Now that’s just cruel. You don’t have to be such a jerk about it.

Anyway, it appears that Maya has left Saturday Night Live, which is too bad, because she was my favourite player on the show, by far. I have a feeling she may have been under-rated, because she didn’t steal the show—at least, not when it wasn’t called for—but she is an incredibly talented woman.

But I’m also sad that she’s gone because I had a secret hope that I’d get a chance to host SNL—but host it the week after she’d left. I had some ideas for skits (and some jokes that people might consider meta-jokes) that I could have used. For example, pretend that Beyoncé Knowles was the musical guest; my opening monologue might go something like this:

  • If you’ve seen SNL, you know the drill. As the opening credits are finishing, the camera cuts to the studio stage. The band finishes playing the theme music, and serna comes out, to no applause whatsoever.
  • serna
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you very much! Thank you! You’re too kind! Thank you!
  • Cut to the audience, who are exceptionally still and quiet. (Not to mention seated.)
  • serna
  • (continuing)
  • No really, thank you! Thank you very much!
  • (starting to clue in)
  • I… uh… I still have three or four more cue cards of this. Hank, can we skip through this part?
  • Cut to cue card guy, who starts quickly discarding cue cards that say things like “Thank you! Thank you very much!” etc. Cut back to serna.
  • serna
  • It’s great to be here, hosting Saturday Night Live! I know that I’m not famous or anything, so there’s no real reason I should be hosting the show. In fact, you guys must be pretty disappointed, eh?
  • Cut to audience, still completely still, and then back to serna
  • serna
  • Ahem. But anyway, it’s always been a dream of mine to host a mediocre variety show, which is deeply in denial of its own imminent demise.
  • (embarrassed)
  • Wait… sorry. Hank, my mistake, that line was from my earlier draft of the monologue. I’d meant to take it out before I actually went on the air. Our cue card guy, Hank, everybody.
  • Cut to cue card guy again.
  • Cue Card Guy
  • My name is Steve.
  • Cut back to serna.
  • serna
  • Oh sorry! Steve.
  • Anyway, it really is a thrill to be hosting the show. I’ve wanted to host the show for years, and all because I wanted to meet one very special, very talented woman. Come on out here!
  • Beyoncé comes on stage, to much applause.
  • serna
  • (as applause dies down)
  • Maya Rudolph, everyone! Maya Rudolph!
  • Beyoncé is surprised; she isn’t quite sure how to handle this.
  • Beyoncé
  • I’m not Maya, I’m Beyoncé Knowles.
  • serna
  • (pleased as punch)
  • I know! You look just like her!
  • Beyoncé
  • No, I really am Beyoncé.
  • serna
  • (disappointed)
  • Oh.
  • (trying to pull it together / fake enthusiasm)
  • Well… Beyoncé Knowles, everyone! The inspiration for one of Maya’s best imitations! But, um…
  • (aside, to Beyoncé)
  • Where’s Maya?
  • Beyoncé
  • (breaking it to him gently)
  • I’m sorry, serna, but Maya has left the show.
  • serna
  • (trying to take it as a joke, but afraid that she might not be joking)
  • Haha! Ha! Good one Beyoncé Knowles. No, but really, can you bring Maya out?
  • (getting more desperate)
  • Beyoncé? Lorne? Hank?
  • Offstage voice: “It’s Steve!” (Note to self: This joke would probably be cut, to make the script tighter. Maybe the whole cue card guy thing would be cut altogether.)
  • Various SNL cast members come on stage, to comfort serna. And maybe, just maybe, to find some peace themselves, in this troubled time.
  • Fred Armison
  • We’re all going to miss her, serna. Our cast is like a family; losing Maya is like losing a sister. A really hot sister. A sister that I wouldn’t have, you know, minded, if she’d come into my dressing room and started kissing me.
  • serna
  • Isn’t she married?
  • Fred Armison
  • Look, the point is, we’re going to miss her.
  • Amy Poehler
  • That’s right, serna. We really will.
  • (aside, to Fred)
  • And sometimes she did come into my dressing room, and start kissing me.
  • Fred looks surprised, and Seth Meyers looks like he wants to hear more. (I don’t know how one looks like one wants to hear more, but he’ll have to try…)
  • Amy
  • But even though Maya is gone, we still have many good shows ahead of us! There’s all kinds of talented people on the staff!
  • serna
  • Really? Name one.
  • Amy
  • (a bit taken aback)
  • Oh! Uh… well, there’s the other female cast members. Some of whom used to work with Maya on a regular basis, and whom the audience might find attractive. (flicks hair) Cute, one might say. Or perky. What about them?
  • serna
  • (still dejected)
  • No. They’re not nearly as good as Maya.
  • Amy
  • (as only Amy Poehler could deliver a line like this (in fact, she’d probably rewrite it))
  • Oh. Yes. I see. No, we’re not as good, are we?
  • serna
  • (forlorn. or maybe despondent. yeah, despondent is better.)
  • It’s hopeless! Maya’s gone, and the show is ruined! How can we possibly go on now?!?
  • To great applause, a big celebrity (and friend of the show) comes on stage. I’m guessing Steve Martin. Or Mike Myers? Or maybe Chevy Chase…
  • Celebrity Guest
  • Now serna, don’t be like that!
  • serna
  • Steve Martin! (Or Mike Myers, or Chevy Chase, or whoever) What are you doing here?
  • Celebrity Guest
  • I’m here to tell you that the show can go on, even when it loses a valuable cast member. For you see…
  • Large musical number here, which serna would need help writing, because he’s not much of a one for writing large musical numbers. Actually, someone else should probably write it.
  • Celebrity Host
  • So do you see serna?
  • serna
  • Yeah [celebrity host]! I do see!
  • Celebrity Host
  • And do you think we can do a great show, even without Maya Rudolph?
  • serna
  • Well… No, not really. But we’re all here, so we have to so something, right gang?
  • Rest of the Cast
  • (all together)
  • Yeah! Right! You bet! Jerkass! We can do it!
  • serna
  • (to audience/camera)
  • We have a great… ish… show, everyone! Beyoncé Knowles is here! (large applause) Stick around, we’ll be right back!
  • Cut to… oh, let’s say a commercial parody.
I don’t know if anyone uses the phrase “pleased as punch” in the 21st Century, but it doesn’t matter, it’s just a stage direction.

Obviously, in order to do a sketch like this, the rest of the cast would have to buy into it, and be cool about it. It’s very cruel to them, even though they’re all very talented. But we’d have to play it like I think they’re lousy, in comparison to Maya.

But once we’d opened the show like that, it would open us up to other possibilities for sketches, that could build on the theme. For example…
  • INT: A college dormitory common area. serna, Seth Meyers, and Kenan Thompson are sitting around.
  • Seth
  • Dude, can you believe that game? You played terribly!
  • He and serna laugh.
  • Kenan
  • Maybe so, but you cheerleaders weren’t exactly on your game, either!
  • Seth
  • (defensive)
  • We were breaking in some new girls! Sometimes it takes a few weeks for them to feel comfortable…
  • Voice from the Control Room
  • serna, can you come to the control room for a minute?
  • serna
  • Uh… but we’re in the middle of a sketch.
  • Voice from the Control Room
  • We have a surprise for you.
  • serna’s eyes light up
  • serna
  • Maya!
  • serna runs off stage, presumably toward the control room.
  • Seth and Kenan are at a loss; now what are they supposed to do?
  • Seth
  • Can you believe that?
  • Kenan
  • What are you going to do. He’s not a real actor; you can’t expect professionalism from him.
  • They sit around for a few more moments.
  • Kenan
  • So… you wanna get drunk?
  • Seth
  • I already am.
  • Cut to serna, making his way into the control room. Lorne Michaels is there, and so is someone with her back to the camera. (We’d have to figure out how to stage this, so that it wouldn’t look silly…)
  • serna
  • Hey Lorne! What’s up?
  • Lorne
  • It’s “Mr. Michaels.” I wish you’d remember that.
  • serna
  • Sorry! Mr. Michaels. What’s going on?
  • Lorne
  • I have someone here that you might like to meet.
  • Woman turns around; it’s Oprah Winfrey.
  • Oprah
  • (waits for applause to die down)
  • Hi serna.
  • serna
  • Maya! It’s you!
  • Oprah
  • (annoyed)
  • No, serna, it’s me. Oprah Winfrey. Lorne thought I could talk with you about your Maya issues, and maybe help you continue with the show.
  • serna
  • (disappointed)
  • Oh. Well… thanks, Oprah, but that’s okay. I’ll be alright.
  • Mr. Michaels, I’m just going to go to my dressing room, and get ready for my next sketch.
  • Lorne
  • We didn’t give you a dressing room. You’re not a celebrity.
  • serna
  • Right, sorry, I mean the men’s room on the third floor.
  • (as he heads out the door)
  • I hope nobody stole my wallet. I’ll need bus fare to get home after the show…
  • Scene ends with some kind of awkward dialogue between Lorne and Oprah, which serna hasn’t written yet, because he doesn’t have a team of writers helping him with this.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But serna, that’s just the same premise that you used in the opening monologue! What, do you only have one joke that you recycle in every sketch?” But having done the joke twice, it sets us up for this sketch…
  • INT: Wherever it is in the NBC studio where the cast and union members might grab a quick snack, between sketches. serna is grabbing something off of the snack table, and Maya Rudolph approaches.
  • Maya
  • (waiting for applause to die down)
  • Hi serna. How’s the show going so far?
  • serna
  • (barely registering her presence)
  • Oh, hi Whitney. It’s alright, I guess.
  • Maya
  • Whitney?!? It’s me, Maya!
  • serna
  • (still not overly interested in the conversation)
  • Look, Ms. Houston, I appreciate you coming here to try and cheer me up, but I can tell it’s you. You don’t even look like her! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get dressed for the next sketch.
  • serna leaves the scene, leaving Maya dumbfounded.
Surely you can see the potential for comedy gold! (I’m also foreseeing a sketch when I suddenly seem to have forgotten my lines, and I call out “line!” To which Steve the cue card guy says, “Not until you remember my name!” But it would have to be worked into a sketch that could have its flow interrupted like that, which isn’t really likely.)

But now it’s too late. (Even if they called me today, and asked me to host the March 16th show, it would be too late; TV audiences are fickle, and they’d have forgotten Maya by then.)

Incidentally, this post is just me goofing off. I’m not secretly hoping that SNL will be impressed with me, and ask me to host the show. (Neither do I think that I have amazing talent as a comedy writer.) I am, however, not-so-secretly hoping that I won’t get sued for this. I don’t know what in this post would be actionable, but I’m betting that the lawyers could find some reason…

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