Maya Rudolph and Martin Short Throw Out Rule Book for NBC Variety Show

The two 'SNL' alums talked about how Lorne Michaels brought them together and previewed what to expect on their forthcoming joint effort.
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Maya Rudolph and Martin Short left little room for doubt about their chemistry Friday at NBC's Summer Press Day.

Although the two Saturday Night Live alums had few concrete details to share about their forthcoming NBC variety show, Maya & Marty, they came prepared in other ways to razzle and dazzle the sea of reporters.

First up was Short, who dove in with the first question on everyone's mind (at least according to him): "What is the real age?" Rudolph didn't hesitate to take the bait. "From here up," she said, pointing to her chest, "26-27. I would say midsection down, a cool 85."

While Short may have a few years on his counterpart, Rudolph still has plenty of experience in the variety game, having starred in her own one-time variety special on NBC in May 2014.

"I just wanted for a long time, after I left SNL, to find a way to continue that and do what i think we were raised and what we started out in and what is the best possible place for what we both do because we're both performers," she said. "That was the natural desire for doing my variety show before. But It was just a pilot. I was really just waiting till it was right. And it wasn't right until I made a glass loafer and I went around the kingdom and looking for somebody who would fit."

Rudolph joked that it was Maya & Marty's executive producer, SNL's Lorne Michaels, who was the right fit, and not the man sitting next to her. But it was none other than Michaels who suggested Rudolph look to Short as a possible partner in crime.

"He actually paired us up to do the SNL 40th Anniversary special as a way to see how it fit," Rudolph said. "It was like a nice blind date."

Short said their sketch together on the star-studded special is the closest thing to a pilot for Maya & Marty. "It was a show that had endless surprises because it had such a large amount of people guesting on it," Short said. "That’s what we're striving for."

The show itself is still in the early stages. "Between Lorne, Maya and myself, we've met with a lot of people who are interested in appearing on the show," Short said.

Although it's been nearly two years since Rudolph's last go-around, time is on her side. Thanks to the recent success — both in ratings and in YouTube views — of late-night shows like The Late Late Show With James Corden and NBC's own The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, variety "is back," Short said. "[We're] literally down the hall from the Tonight Show and I think that's appropriate."

Despite going it alone last time, Rudolph said she was happy to share the spotlight with a partner this time around. "In a situation like this, you have to know you have a great partner," she said. "I know I'm going to be funny when I'm with someone who is far funnier than I am."

Short concurred: "it's great that the jokes are great but even if they're not perfect, if you feel the two people are having a great time … that's more contagious than a well-structured joke."

The two, who have set up writers rooms in Los Angeles and New York in preparation to the May launch, emphasized there would be "no rules," as Rudolph said, regarding what would make a good fit for the show. Short didn't even role out the possibility of reprising his beloved Jiminy Glick character. "If it's funny and if it truly makes us laugh," he said. "It's loose fun with entertainers who truly love entertainment."

Like a true partner, Rudolph was quick to back him up. "I think Kanye [West] would agree," she deadpanned.

Maya & Marty premieres May 31 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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