Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Despite her "Oh shit" reaction, Maya Rudolph says playing Kamala Harris is her civic duty

Maya Rudolph, Jimmy Fallon
Maya Rudolph, Jimmy Fallon
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

Before no doubt sitting through last night’s Vice Presidential debate and taking notes (“Bring a flyswatter to read-through,” for sure), Saturday Night Live’s resident Kamala Harris, Maya Rudolph, sat for a remote chat with fellow SNL alum Jimmy Fallon. Taped before a debate that saw the actual Harris try and mostly fail to get homophobic man-bot Mike Pence to answer a single goddamned question about his role in the Trump administration’s myriad atrocities, recent double Emmy-winner Rudolph stressed that she’s hoping SNL’s staff can iron out a few deeply stressful new showtime elements before her inevitable return as Harris this Saturday.

Noting that all the more-vigorous-than-the-White-House COVID testing and other “molasses”-slow precautionary measures taken by the show meant that she didn’t see her lines before her “Momma-la” Harris made her way out to scold Alec Baldwin’s Trump, Rudolph says she hopes there was, somehow, something of the real Harris in her seat-of-the-pantsuit performance. (There was—Maya’s money.) Reminiscing about the bad old days when she and Fallon were at SNL for the 9/11 and anthrax-in-the-freaking-building periods, Rudolph called the heightened pressure of doing the live show pretty similar. (“Another doozy,” is how the battle-hardened SNL vet put it.) Still, last-second flop sweat aside, Rudolph praised her former workplace (where she first appeared 21 years ago, if you want to feel old) for “doing an unbelievable job making you feel safe.” Apart from multiple daily COVID tests for cast and crew, we can also count shit-canning this week’s musical guest for acting like a jackass and getting all mask-less and drunk at various, thoroughly TikTok-ed parties earlier this week. (Lorne Michaels’ checkbook being used to dodge New York indoor audience restrictions is another story.)

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Maya being Maya, she told Fallon that, yes, her “Oh shit” reaction when told live about lookalike Harris being chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate was genuine. For one thing, West Coaster who hasn’t left her house in seven months Rudolph had to worry about getting to New York. But, calling her Saturday Night Live reprise of Harris “my civic duty” in this election for the soul of America, Rudolph strapped on her wig with the courage of the inveterate comic trouper, and will be doing so for the foreseeable (hopefully multiple-year) future. All joking aside (well, most joking aside), Rudolph told Fallon that part of her “Oh shit” reaction to the Harris news came from her gratified shock that someone who looked like her (“remotely close to whatever this is,” is how Maya put it, gesturing to her mixed-race face) would be up for the Vice Presidency.

Saturday Night Live returns this Saturday with host Bill Burr, Maya’s Harris, and musical guest presumably someone who isn’t an irresponsible idiot. Harris can also be seen in Adam Sandler’s Hubie Halloween, if that’s your thing.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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