This Is How Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph Navigated ‘Saturday Night Live’

‘You have to just embrace that you’re not going to figure it out’
This Is How Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph Navigated ‘Saturday Night Live’

Maya Rudolph gave Ego Nwodim some Saturday Night Live advice last December that has been living rent-free in Nwodim’s head ever since. “I’ve been thinking,” Nwodim said, “about (Rudolph) saying, ‘When I stopped giving a fuck is when it started to feel great and truly like play.’” 

SNL stars Nwodim, Rudolph and Kristen Wiig were all part of Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable, and eventually, the conversation turned to surviving the show. “At SNL, the schedule is so intense that when we have weeks off, I pop out and I’m like, ‘What just happened to me, and how do I regain my personhood?’” Nwodim said. 

At least she feels she’s finally finding her way on the show: “The thing that felt so transformative for me is an SNL sketch, ‘Lisa From Temecula,’ which is so fucking fun.”

“Stop giving a fuck and just play” is easy advice to give but hard to make real. Even “Lisa from Temecula” didn’t go so great at rehearsal so the sketch almost didn’t make the show at all. “So I got out there and didn’t have any expectations for how it would go,” explained Nwodim. “It was the last sketch of the night, and I was getting to improvise, the thing I love, because the chair wasn’t supposed to fall and it ended up being so fun and liberating. And I could not have planned for it. I just had to play.”

Friends and fans who knew the “insane” Nwodim from her hilarious podcast and UCB appearances applauded the sketch as the most “her thing” they’d seen her do on the show. Which is great, said Nwodim, but why did it take so long? “I go, ‘Five years in!’ And some people go, ‘You should write more things like that.’ And I go, ‘Baby, if you knew how the process went. It don’t work that way.’”

No one should know how it works better than SNL legends Wiig and Rudolph, but sharing a road map is difficult. “I don’t think you can navigate it. That’s how you navigate it,” said Wiig. “I got the sense of the place when I got there and I felt uncomfortable and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s the show.’” 

Wiig figured the moment she felt like she belonged on SNL meant it was time to go. “So you have to just embrace that you’re not going to figure it out,” she explained. “And I don’t know if that’s helpful, but it helped me, because it had felt like there was a math problem I wasn’t getting.”

“And I love math,” said Nwodim.

“Me too,” agreed Wiig.

In some ways, Rudolph didn’t truly master SNL until after she’d left. “Really, coming back to SNL after I had my daughter was transformative because I gave no more fucks,” she says. “That was different for me because I was wasting a lot of time worrying about what other people thought and doing the right thing and being a good girl and a good student and a good daughter and working hard and it took (becoming a mom) for me.” 

Quinta Brunson, another member of the roundtable, thought that was an excellent solution: “I need to have a baby.”

“I will get you pregnant,” Rudolph joked.


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