Saturday Night Live is known for being the launch pad for some of the biggest kings of comedy and alum Maya Rudolph can definitely be counted among one of the comedic institution’s first ladies of laughter. These days the 38-year-old daughter of legendary soul songstress Minnie Riperton, is currently expecting her third child and is busier than ever. This year Rudolph will be heard as the voice of the giraffe in the live action children’s film The Zookeeper and she’ll be starring in the new NBC fall sitcom Up All Night with Christina Applegate. But first up she’s getting wild, loose and hanging out with the girls in the bawdy new comedy film Bridesmaids.
BET.com spoke to Rudolph about her new film, her SNL days and why, despite her pedigree, comedy was always her calling over music.
Critics are calling Bridesmaids a female Hangover. Is that an accurate description or is it something more?
I definitely think that’s a huge compliment, but it’s slightly misleading because the stories are so different. And there’s no Mike Tyson in it.
And it’s a little raunchy with a couple of penis and poop jokes in it. That already makes it different because it’s rare you see that raw brand of humor coming from women.
Oh yeah. But I think everybody appreciated it. It was meant to be funny and [in the movie] you hear women talking the way that women really do talk and having fun the way that they normally do. It’s been very interesting to hear people say, "Wow, we never see this." People are grateful for something new and a lot of it comes from truth.
Is that’s why you wanted to be a part of the film? Because out of all the movies you’ve done, the tone of this comedy is more in line with your work on Saturday Night Live.
Yeah it’s definitely in the place that I feel the most comfortable. I’ve known [Bridesmaids star] Kristen [Wiig] for a long time and I love her so much. We’re used to working together and I’m such a huge fan of hers. So it’s such a nice thing to get to be a part of something you find funny and to get to do a movie with your friends. I feel like [you get] the best results when you’re working with people you know.
You were so good in this movie I wished we got a chance to see more of your character, Lillian. The bridesmaids seemed to have most of the fun. Were you always slated to play the bride in the film?
No, not at all. I don’t think the movie was written with anybody in mind. I think they truly saw a lot of people [in casting] for the roles of all the girls. I was told one of the reasons they were glad to have me was that Kristen and I really are friends. I think that’s nice to be able to play with—to actually see a real friendship on camera.
I notice that you, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler always return frequently to Saturday Night Live. Is it like going back for a high school or college reunion?
Yeah it is. It’s the most special place for me. I love SNL so much and there’s no comparison to it. It’s a heavy-duty schedule. My life started to change after I had children and it was harder and harder to keep up that pace when I was doing it. But it never took away my love for it. I still watch the show every week and I miss my friends. Whenever I’ve been asked to come back I’ve been so thrilled, there’s just nothing better.
You, Tina and Amy are all currently pregnant. It’s like you all synchronized it the way women do with their clothing sometimes.
Maybe we’re all drinking the same water. I don't how that happened. But we’re all in the same age group, too, and trying to balance career and motherhood. We’re like the only actresses that keep working pregnant. All these other beautiful film actresses may take time off and you don’t see them pregnant, expect in paparazzi pictures. But us comedy ladies I guess we have no shame, we just keep going. Nine months is a long time. When stuff [acting opportunities] comes up, I just say, 'Sure.'
What were some of your personal favorite characters and skits that you performed on SNL?
It’s so hard to pick because you do so many. But I loved doing "Bronx Beat" with Amy. I loved playing Oprah [Winfrey] and Whitney Houston; doing Beyoncé on "The Prince Show," anything having to do with Prince is exciting. I used to love doing "Gemini’s Twin" with Ana Gasteyer back in the day, which was like a fake Destiny’s Child and we’d get to write these really stupid songs.
You’re such a distinct comedian in your own right that people may forget you’re the daughter of Minnie Riperton. Did you ever feel the pressure to do music because that was your mother’s area?
I was in my mother’s belly when she was singing so I think it’s no question that music is a part of me. I definitely thought about it. I played in my fair share of bands and I sang growing up. I’m sure if I had my mother’s voice it would be like a no-brainer. I love singing, but there’s no question that I was just born goofy. My dad actually said that if my mom wasn’t a singer she would have been a comedian—he swears by that. But it feels really good to be my own person. I think that’s probably what my mom would be the most proud of—that I followed my own path, because that’s what she did. And I feel very blessed to have been given the chance to do that.
The girl-power comedy Bridesmaids is in theaters now.