15 of Maya Rudolph’s Funniest Moments
While even Starbucks baristas mainly consider Maya Rudolph to be “The Lady Who Took a Shit in the Street,” her career is much more than that one unforgettable accident. On SNL alone, she stole many Saturday nights as Whitney Houston, Donatella Versace, Kamala Harris or Beyonce. And she has left an indelible mark on everything from Big Mouth, to Idiocracy, to The Good Place, to The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
We’d say her impressive performances are too numerous to count, but that’s exactly what we attempted to do below — highlighting the 15 most Hall-of-Fame-worthy among them.
Maya Angelou’s 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs!' Prank Show
Rudolph’s voice and mannerisms as Maya Angelou are pitch-perfect, making this ridiculous sketch pitch-perfect as well.
Serving as the Law on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’
Rudolph played U.S. Marshal Karen Haas, Jake and Captain Holt’s handler when they went undercover in Florida. Her ability to be simultaneously hard-as-nails and emotionally vulnerable was comedy gold.
Being Donatella Versace
No one was a bigger fan of Rudolph’s impression of fashion icon Donatella Versace on SNL than Versace herself. They even appeared together in a skit at the VH1 Fashion Awards. And as over-the-top as Rudolph’s impression was, seeing her side-by-side with the real deal only demonstrated how much she was holding back.
Playing Dumb on ‘Idiocracy’
In Mike Judge’s increasingly prophetic Idiocracy, Rudolph played Rita, a sex worker who gets put into cryogenic hibernation and wakes up 500 years later in a world populated by horny idiots, allowing her to put her previous work experience to good use.
On ‘The Bronx Beat’
Giving Back in ‘Loot’
In the new Apple TV+ series, Rudolph plays Molly Novak, a billionaire divorcee determined to change the world and find meaning in her life by running a charity she had forgotten she had founded.
Singing Like Whitney
Rudolph played Whitney Houston numerous times on SNL, hilariously (and randomly) breaking out Houston’s signature dance moves and making not-so-subtle references to drug use.
The Aforementioned Mid-Street Bathroom Emergency
‘Super Showcase Spokesmodels’
Another bit of SNL batshit lunacy that wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without Rudolph.
Deciding Between Good and Bad on ‘The Good Place’
In a recurring role, Rudolph played Gen, the sassy judge who rules on disputes between the Good Place and the Bad Place, and ultimately holds the fate of the universe in her hands.
Singing the National Anthem
We know Rudolph is making fun of how singers butcher the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but now we kinda want her to sing it like this at every sporting event.
Her voice work as Connie the Hormone Montress on Big Mouth has earned her two Emmys.
Being (Vice) Presidential
‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’
Her emotional range here — from start to finish — is remarkable.
As Beyoncé on ‘Hot Ones’
Watching Queen Bey refuse to admit defeat to the sadistic hot wings is easily one of Rudolph’s most brilliantly unhinged sketches on SNL.