Next Monday, NBC is bringing back the variety show and Maya Rudolph. Life is good. “The Maya Rudolph Show,” promises one hour of sketch comedy plus lots of musical numbers—reviving a genre that lost its sea legs in the 21st century. Ed Sullivan, Sonny and Cher, Carol Burnett, and, of course, THE MUPPETS all killed it hosting their variety series back in the day, but it’s been tricky figuring out how to make this form work in the here and now. Remember Wayne Brady’s 2001 attempt? It’s better you don’t. Then Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey gave it the old college try in 2004. Ditto the Osbourne Family and Carrie Underwood in 2009. None of these shows really worked, but perhaps they didn’t have the right host. I have all the faith in the world that if anyone can make a variety show work in 2014, it’s Maya Rudolph. She is so talented that if you told me a comedy nerd Weird Science-d her to life, I would believe you. To preoccupy me until next week’s premiere, I came up with 7 reasons why I’m so excited for “The Maya Rudolph Show.”
1.) That woman makes me laugh on the regular
She made me laugh ALL the time during her SNL days. She cracked me up hard in “Bridesmaids.” I only saw a few episodes of her last show “Up All Night,” but she was A STITCH. Her character was basically Oprah on methamphetamines. I just want to watch her sing songs and tell jokes and DO THINGS, which is basically the job description of a variety show host.
2.) Because I’m still nostalgic for “my era” of “Saturday Night Live”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that you will always think whatever SNL cast you grew up with was THE BEST SNL CAST. My heyday was Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon doing Weekend Update through Tina Fey and Amy Poehler doing Weekend Update, so I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fan of that SNL era and particular the ladies of that era (Rachel Dratch! Ana Gasteyer! Amy, Tiny, Maya! Get me my velvet reclining couch and smelling salts BECAUSE I AM SWOONING!)
3.) Because bringing back the musical variety show is an idea made of solid gold and its time has come
I’m a true-blue musical theater nerd and I’m always down to give musical shenanigans on television a go. Yes I mean “Smash,” yes I mean “Glee,” I even mean “Nashville.” Just give me people singing on television and I’m good. Musical theater is the silliest, happiest, sweetest of art forms, more, please, all the time, forever.
4.) Because I was a little sad no women were a part of the recent late night television shuffle around
I’m really excited for Stephen Colbert to take over “The Late Show” from David Letterman. I’m really excited for Larry Wilmore to succeed Stephen Colbert over at Comedy Central with his new nightly program “The Minority Report.” Superstar dudes bringing their A game to late night—it’s all great, great, great. But I also got kind of excited when women’s names were tossed around for these roles, and late night needs a female presence. I love the idea of that presence being Maya Rudolph, in lots of costumes, no less.
5.) Because GUEST STARS
Here are the guest stars for the first (and so far only scheduled) episode: Kristen Bell, Chris Parnell, Fred Armisen, Sean Hayes, Craig Robinson, and Andy Samberg. And Janelle Monáe is going to be the musical guest. If Monáe and Rudolph do a duet my brain will explode and I’ll have to run around my living room finding the pieces of my brain and trying to stuff them back into my skull. That said, I STILL want this duet to happen.
6.) Because other “outdated” television forms have been recently resurrected, so why NOT the variety show?
Anthology shows like “The Twilight Zone” were dead as a doornail until shows like FX’s “American Horror Story” and HBO’s “True Detective” brushed the dust off the form, put their own spin on it, and made anthology series cool again. I want to see the resurrection of the variety show and I want to see it this month.
7.) Because this show seems like it really has its heart in the right place
Rudolph is straight-up doing a classic variety show (as opposed to making fun of the variety show) because, as she says “I love the good-mood, magical quality of it. I didn’t want to be terribly cynical or snarky.” This is exactly the show I want from Rudolph and my fingers are tightly crossed the show delivers on its promise.