The variety format received a new addition on Tuesday night: Maya and Marty. Starring Saturday Night Live veterans Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, the latest NBC attempt at the genre (following attempts by Rudolph herself and Neil Patrick Harris) featured first-episode guest appearances from Tom Hanks, Kate McKinnon, Jimmy Fallon, Kenan Thompson, Larry David, and musical guest Miley Cyrus. Ahead, the top moments from the episode:
1. The Astronaut, starring Tom Hanks
The show really kicked off with a full hand to play by parodying Tom Hanks’ star appeal. The Astronaut is a film that seems to take Hanks back to his Apollo 13 days as a loving husband forced to leave his wife behind for the great space frontier. Of course once there, he takes some needed time alone watching Chicago Fire (which we learn from his wife, played by Rudolph, is “not her thing”), eating Burger King chicken fries in his car with his friend Rod (played by Martin Short), and staying at the Radisson near NASA. The seriousness that usually come with a Hanks film is tossed aside for the absurdity that can accompany even the most dire of ways to just be alone.
2. Melania Trump’s “Edible Diamonds”
Why not throw in some political humor? Maya Rudolph plays Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in a similar vein to her Donatella Versace counterpart she made famous on Saturday Night Live. Just like the SNL joke, her “Melania’s Edible Diamonds” commercial does not disappoint. Watching Rudolph riff on Mrs. Trump’s mannerisms and quirks lends a strong hand to the dialogue that accompanies it. “But we all ask ourselves, why can we not eat it,” states Rudolph in her monologue. “Now we can!” Thumbs up for her almost choking on the supposedly edible diamond!
3. Miley Cyrus musical performance featuring special guest, Maya Rudolph?
Much like SNL, the musical guest segment takes a step away from the comedy and allows for a singing star to take to the stage and add a little variation to the night’s festivities. Miley Cyrus had those honors, wearing a full tuxedo while blasting her talented pipes before unveiling her second act look: cabaret. Tearing away her black pants, the door behind her flew open and Rudolph emerged in a similar outfit, ready to join Cyrus in the spotlight for a rendition of Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman.”
4. “The War in Words: Letters from the Front”
The series is already proving its strength in making short, concise sketches that can allow the actors to handle the comedy however they want. In a post-war pen-pal scene, a man (played by Mickey Day) writes to his wife back home about the war front. After his stereotypically long letter, we cut to Rudolph as his wife Elizabeth, sending a response back. “I am good,” writes Rudolph’s Elizabeth; a simple but effective joke that Rudolph delivers with a convincingly deadpan tone. The increasing anger from her husband on the front lines adds to the joke and makes us ready for her goofy response. “Knock, knock,” she writes at one point. The best gag? She includes a photo of herself with Abraham Lincoln but does not explain how it happened, instead detailing a story about buying a sack of grain. Martin Short writes in as Lincoln to relay to Trenton that he met Elizabeth and their newborn daughter. “You had the baby? What is her name? What was the deal that President Lincoln offered? Why did you devote so much time to the grain sack story?”
5. Goodnight Moon
Martin Short as Nana kicks off this skit, delivering the comedy through his warbled and feeble delivery of every “Goodnight” said to his granddaughter (played by Cyrus). The scene ramps up when Karen, a bunny that’s more Playmate than Bugs, stumbles by the window looking to get “smashed” by her booty call David. It’s a simple joke, but Rudolph and Short’s comedic strengths drive home that this series could really bring the idea of variety TV back into the network game.