Maya Rudolph slays on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in a Mother’s Day-themed episode

Maya Rudolph with Vampire Weekend and Kenan Thompson.
“Saturday Night Live” host Maya Rudolph, flanked by this week’s musical guest Vampire Weekend and Kenan Thompson.
(Rosalind O’Connor / NBC)
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It’s hard to believe that in the years since Maya Rudolph left “Saturday Night Live,” in 2007, she’s only hosted the show three times, which includes this week’s excellent return. She pops up frequently, like when other former castmates host the show — most recently Kate McKinnon — and she was a regular guest before and after the 2020 election as Vice President Kamala Harris.

It may be surprising because you can’t ask for an easier comedic layup than having Rudolph — a versatile sketch comic, singer and impressionist — bring her talents to the show. This outing was no exception: After an energetic house-music monologue, Rudolph showcased her exceptional range. Whether it was bringing back her Beyoncé impression for a “Hot Ones” redo, playing a frazzled teacher where the entire school is giving up, a British cavewoman on NatGeo, or a flatulent actress on a TV commercial shoot who drinks too much coffee, everything clicked. A pre-taped sketch about motherhood, “Can You Pick Me Up,” managed the tricky task of being both hilarious and poignant.

Even some of the later sketches, including one about a lawn service whose workers won’t sleep with your wife, and one honoring National Nurses’ Week where Rudolph played an Irish Jamaican nurse, benefited from the host’s chops. For the Mother’s Day episode, Rudolph was indeed the ultimate “Mother” that the monologue suggested. Also this week: musical guest Vampire Weekend performed “Gen-X Cops” and “Capricorn.”


As the show has done from time to time, the cold open devoted itself to showing love to the cast members’ real-life moms. Kenan Thompson was first with his mother, Ann, who expressed disappointment that the show wasn’t going to kick off with a politics sketch. “That’s too bad,” she said, “I was excited to see who was going to play Stormy Daniels.” Several cast moms brought Tom Brady jokes, referencing his recent live Netflix roast. “Tom Brady’s marriage ended so quickly I thought it was your dad,” Chloe Fineman’s mom said. Mikey Day got some love from his mom for his viral Beavis and Butt-Head sketch with Ryan Gosling from a few weeks ago. Marcello Hernandez’s mom said she got flowers and a phone number from Michael Che. And Sarah Sherman’s mom correctly predicted that she could play the worm from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s brain. We’ll talk about that more in a bit.

In her monologue, Maya Rudolph went huge with a banger of a musical performance. With the cast members honoring the four-time mom as “Mother” (as in the Gen-Z term of ultimate respect for an elder), Rudolph performed a house song where she marched through the backstage and referenced her past movie appearances, including “Bridesmaids” (“Remember in that movie when I pooped my pants?”) and name-checked past and present recurring “SNL” characters, including Dooneese, Mary Catherine Gallagher and Lisa from Temecula. “I’m your mother!” she announced triumphantly as the showstopper ended.

Best sketch of the night: Beyoncé slays everything but the Scoville scale

It’s usually diminishing returns when a hugely successful sketch gets repeated, but this sequel in which Beyoncé (Rudolph) returns as a guest on “Hot Ones” has a few important updates. First, Beyoncé is outfitted in her vinyl “Cowboy Carter” gear and she brings her Texas swagger to try to conquer the increasingly hot wings on the YouTube show. Secondly, it’s completely believable that, having been defeated before, the superstar would have no choice but to return to finish what she couldn’t last time. “This was the only thing I have attempted that I did not slay,” she says in the sketch, “and that bothered both me and my husband.” It’s not long before the sweaty singer is cursing out host Sean Evans (Mikey Day) and his “Charlie Brown-looking a—” and asking if her skeleton, which is on fire, can be removed from her body. This sketch is just as funny as the first one, and was about as funny as when Rudolph appeared on “Hot Ones” as her character Molly Evans from the Apple TV+ show “Loot.”

Also good: Never show anyone your Instagram Explore page

After some time off from the show, the Please Don’t Destroy boys were back and out of the studio in a filmed sketch about a triple date gone wrong. When their dates (Fineman, Ego Nwodim and Sherman) ask to see their Instagram searches, the boys do everything they can to avoid it, but before long it’s revealed that all three are addicted to “Uneesa Confidence” (Rudolph), an Instagram influencer who sells her dirty bathwater and boosts the self confidence of lonely young men. Also, she flashes her breasts. Bonus points for the very punny name, which translates to: “You Need Some Confidence”

‘Weekend Update’ winner: Sarah Sherman worms her way into our hearts again

Heidi Gardner did a very nice job as “a woman who says she’s not mad,” but it was hard to top Sherman as Kennedy’s brain worm, a lovelorn parasite who keeps sucking on the straw of a Stanley cup filled with brains. While she was making fun of the presidential candidate, she also got some digs in on “Update” co-host Colin Jost including, “His face is so red, he looks like you yelling at college protesters,” and linked him to Kevin Spacey. She said Spacey was her former brain home: “I ate the part that understood the word no.” The worm begged Kennedy to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building where they could reunite. Then the worm applied lipstick and did a Marilyn Monroe homage, singing, “Happy worm brain, Mr. Future President!”