Maya Rudolph, who won an Emmy for playing Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live, said she felt anxious watching Harris debate Vice President Mike Pence, knowing it would be fodder for this week’s show.
Then along came the fly.
“I don’t think it was until the fly landed on his head that I kind of took a breath and sort of had a smile on my face,” she said during a virtual appearance at the New Yorker Festival on Friday. Rudolph and Natasha Lyonne, her partner in Animal Pictures, discussed their longstanding ties and the projects they’re working on together. Both also detoured into other work over their careers
Even though she was an SNL cast member from 2000 to 2007, Rudolph said she “felt a lot of pressure” while watching the debate, but the material “kind of wrote itself.” She didn’t get into specifics about the way the show might send up the debate tomorrow night, and conceded that verbal sparring isn’t her favorite thing.
“I hate debates in life,” she said. “The polite arguing fills me with such agita that I have difficulty enjoying it. Any debate in any form.” Nevertheless, “I was paying attention to physicalities and also just trying to see how she was doing.”
Rudolph said when the fly landed on Pence’s head, she starting commenting out loud on the proceedings even though she was in her house alone. “It was that moment where you want to say to the person next to you like, ‘Are you f–king seeing this?’ As if things hadn’t been weird enough getting us to this point. So f–king strange and hilarious.”
SNL teased Rudolph’s return to the show this coming Saturday in a promo released ahead of the Vice Presidential debate on Wednesday (you can watch it below)
Lyonne and Rudolph talked with moderator Michael Schulman about their process of collaborating on projects at Animal, which has a first-look deal at Amazon. The company is behind the upcoming Netflix special Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine, which Lyonne will also direct, as well as the animated series The Hospital.
The two have a friendship dating back decades. Lyonne recalled the two spent the night of September 10, 2001, together. “It’s a bizarre touchstone to remember who you were with before everything changed,” she said. As they began working together, Lyonne recalled being impressed with Rudolph’s capability to juggle her career with being a mother and a wife. Quoting Lucille Ball, she said, “Tell somebody incredibly busy to do it. Then you’ll get it done.”