TV Review: ‘Maya and Marty’

Maya and Marty Ratings NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Understandably, entertainment executives keep trying to make the charismatic “Saturday Night Live” veteran Maya Rudolph a bigger star. Less understandable are an array of efforts to revive the variety show, a genre of entertainment perhaps left best to prior eras in TV history.

Let’s face it, variety shows thrived when viewers didn’t have a lot of other options, but now anyone with a TV, smartphone or laptop has hundreds of different kinds of programs at his or her disposal every minute of the day. It’s easy to create one’s own grab bag of entertainment — the networks don’t have to do it for us.

And yet they keep trying, especially NBC, which aired “The Maya Rudolph Show” in 2014 and cast the actress as a talk-show diva in the ever-morphing sitcom “Up All Night” a few years earlier. Last year’s variety offering, “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris,” flopped, perhaps because it continually reeked of flop sweat. Now NBC is back at it with “Maya and Marty,” but if its debut episode was supposed to convince America that variety shows truly deserve to re-establish themselves on the entertainment scene, well, it didn’t successfully make that case. 

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Part of the problem was that it’s hard to figure out why Martin Short and Rudolph were shoehorned into the same program. They didn’t spend much time together on screen, aside from a reasonably entertaining opening skit starring Tom Hanks, and a couple moments of chatter at the start and end of the hourlong program.

One trait the performers have in common is a tendency to play big, brassy, larger-than-life characters, but all too often, the writing for them wasn’t nearly as sharp as it needed to be. The end result was often a lot of bombast and noise but not too many laughs. “Maya and Marty,” in many ways, is a ham sandwich with an extra helping of ham.

Friends got to mug for the camera too: Steve Martin stopped by briefly, Miley Cyrus (an alumni of another variety-adjacent show starring Bill Murray, Rudolph and others) sang a tune, and Kenan Thompson was just one “SNL” veteran who stopped by. In a show that already had possibly too many commercial tie-ins and product placements, Thompson did a Steve Harvey impression in a skit that mocked the network’s “Little Big Shots” while also not so stealthily promoting it. In that parody, Short and Jimmy Fallon played a set of twins who engaged in toilet humor while offering up painfully overwrought overacting.

The best that can be said of “Maya and Marty” is that although that particular skit made me long for the sweet release of death, not all of it was that painful.

Hanks was a good sport about his heroic image in that opening skit, in which he played an astronaut who’s actually a secret slacker. A later bit that starred Rudolph as a ditzy, stone-faced Melania Trump veered a little close to her classic Donatella Versace impersonation, but it was reasonably amusing.

But most of the sketches in “Maya and Marty” came off like uninspired “SNL” cast-offs, the kind of thing that either airs ten minutes before the show ends or gets cut after the dress rehearsal.

A pre-taped showcase for Short’s obsequious interviewer character, Jiminy Glick, had him interviewing Larry David, and that featured a few spontaneous, laugh-out-loud moments, but like many of the other sketches, it ran too long. As for another of the hour’s low points, at this point, parodying Ken Burns’ documentary style, the subject of one interminable skit, feels like shooting long-dead fish in a very shallow barrel. Savion Glover and the cast of “Shuffle Along,” who closed the show in a rousing fashion, were a sight for sore eyes: The kind of clatter produced by their tap-dancing was intentional, precise and highly enjoyable, in marked contrast to much of what preceded it.

Every variety show is going to have some dead spots, but what’s disconcerting about the first episode of “Maya and Marty” is that the team behind the show thought that these sketches were the strongest ones they had in their arsenal. If these bits were the pick of litter, I can only imagine what’s on tap for next week. But I would prefer not to.

TV Review: 'Maya and Marty'

(Series; NBC, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.)

Crew

Executive producer, Lorne Michaels; producers, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Dave Becky, Marc Gurwitz; head writers, Mikey Day, Matt Roberts, Bryan Tucker; director, Alex Rudzinski.

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  1. Corey Campbell says:

    Loved the show, want more!

    • I was 45 years old when it aired. I absolutely adored and loved it. You don’t see this humor anymore. I found it extremely and highly funny and would wait for it every week hoping there was so many more episodes. I would love to see them back again and again. Just the way I watched it. Taped it and watched it over and over again for great laughs. Please let them return possibly under a gif fervent time or day slot. There is plenty of humor and variety. They were just getting started.

  2. Tess says:

    I totally loved the show!!

  3. Debbie McManus says:

    Loved the show and hope there is more…made me laugh. Please bring Mya and Marty back.

  4. Martin Pal says:

    I’ve watched all of the series this summer. Do reviewers even know how to review a variety show since they’ve been few and far between for a few decades? All I can say is that it entertained me for six weeks and I loved that. I liked the emphasis on Maya’s style of music rather than the current flavor of the week. I was surprised at how many sketches hit the mark, because I watch SNL all the time and this show’s sketches topped most any I saw this past season. I hope to see more episodes. Variety might be hard to do now with people having attention spans of a gnat, but thanks for it, NBC.

  5. Tim says:

    A Great show
    Except when Marty insists on doing another stupid Gay joke , ESPECIALLY Jiminy Glick. but I think it is very good otherwise lots of fun and singing and dance ( Marty has plenty of funny characters otherwise) Man When Maya and Emma Stone did that cute song doing rhythm on margarine tubs while doing a GREAT HARMONY,
    That was a definet highpoint!

  6. nise 53 says:

    I agree if they did 6 during the summer and a Christmas special that would be fun! My favorite was the war skit when she never put any details in her letters to her husband , HILARIOUS! l love at the end of the show when Maya, Marty and Keenan do the closing song! Very fun and entertaining!!

  7. Mikhala the Great says:

    I loved this show!
    I really hope they bring back a revival for a Christmas Variety Special.

  8. Michael B says:

    I’m glad to see others on this board disagreeing with the crabby writer; I just wonder if we’re all old farts & the Bernie Sanders-follower kids don’t like this show. Anyway, I’ve been able to watch 3 of the 6 episodes, and I’ve thought the material was funny, ckever, and intelligently-written. I got a kick out of the fact that Steve Martin’s been on a couple of times, Kenan’s been pretty good, and I’ve always cracked up from Jiminy Glick, as well as Grimley, Jackie & other Martin characters. I see the ratings are pretty paltry, so I can’t imagine NBC renewing it in this day & age, but I, for one, would love to see it make the Fall or Winter lineup.

  9. Tim says:

    Most of the stuff is entertaining
    BUT Jimini Glick is not FUNNY
    NOT
    so it is embarrassing
    I saw a CUTE clip of Maya and Emma Stone doing a butter tub music thing that was very cute
    I closed my eyes because it was a little distracting from the great harmony of their 2 voices
    IMPRESSIVE, then it went into Jiminy Glick, Embarrassing , UNFUNNY
    but there are SO MANY funny characters that Marty does, why doesn’t he do another one!!??

  10. Sam W says:

    The idea of this show may not have been completely original, howeve it was super funny and the two are a great pair! Loved loved loved this show!!!

  11. Elliot says:

    I didnt laugh. Terrible idea. show was trying too hard and although I was looking forward to seeing Maya and Martin, I was extremely disappointed after 4 shows. Sorry but I didn’t see the humor in it. I felt they weren’t a good match.

  12. Bales says:

    I haven’t laughed out loud so many times during a sketch comedy show since SNL in the mid 90s. Great show. Martin Short is crazy and Mia is funnier than she’s ever been.

  13. Laurelyn Hensarling says:

    One of the best shows on TV. It’s about time the networks show something worth watching. It reminds me of the Carol Burnett show only up dated to the times. Love Jiminy Crickit. Funny funny. Thanks Maya & Marty. Keep the laughs coming.

  14. Angie says:

    Pretty harsh comment just to have seen just one show. I think the show is refreshingly funny. I love seeing the two together its like bringing together the old with the new. I’m watching!

  15. Donna Cognac says:

    This reviewer is indeed nuts. This house loves the show. LOVES it. And so do others we know. We’ve laughed approximately 10 times more at this show then we do watching SNL. The harmony singing at the end is wonderful. I hope it sticks. I repeat. This reviewer is nuts.

  16. Sharon T says:

    I like this show. It’s fun. I hope it stays on.

  17. goksrm says:

    Maya’s very talented and on a given night can provide you with top notch entertainment. Martin is talented as well but seems to have lousy material most of the time…..however….since you can’t find this type of showmanship anywhere, I’ll take what he has to offer which is more than anyone else has. Other cast members do a good job getting the show going.

    Good luck to all of them and keep the show running.

  18. May Pragliola says:

    I absolutely love this show and hope it lasts. Last nights episode was the funniest one yet. We were in stitches and actual belly laughs. I miss that kind of laughing. Maya and Marty work very well together and Jimminy Glick is a funny character when he interviews celebrities. We certainly, without a doubt, need more genuine laughter in our lives and there should be funnier shows like this on every night. Enough of that garbage like the bachlorette, and ridiculous reality shows. Even the shows that are considered comedy could never compare to comedies of the past. What has happened to these new, up and coming writers today? It’s just a bunch of junk. MORE OF MAYA AND MARTY, is what I say!!!

  19. tennistom says:

    The reviewer is nuts, the show is funny as hell. It’s what SNL was like before it got PC’ed and LSD’ed. We will now DVR it and play it instead of SNL which we now shut off after about three minutes. It’s a great contrast to all the mayhem, perversion and bestiality that surrounds it on most of what passes for TV today–conditioning the masses for the sick new world that’s just around the corner.

  20. Brenda Whatley says:

    It has some funny moments and it sure beats the heck out of shows like the bachelor and the other reality shows now flooding the airwaves.

  21. Susan says:

    I like Maya Rudolph and Martin Short and I think that the cast and the writers, etc. are still finding their way. I loved them on SNL and I like that so many of their guests are prior SNL comedians. I believe that the writing is getting better every week and I look forward to watching M&M. Give the show a break and let them find their place. Such impatiences kills off shows that just need time to find their way and then take off. I wish Maya and Martin the best and I hope that Loren Michaels is paying a lot of attention to helping them succeed.

  22. Kathy says:

    Wow, this show is not funny. I grew up with Carol Burnett, Smothers Brothers, Laugh In, etc. and to compare this mess to those classics is delusional. A string of poor SNL reject skits that waste the talents of all involved.

  23. karen says:

    This show is horrific. I can’t get past the first 10 minutes. Absolutely the unfunniest show on TV. Pls let it die a quick death.

  24. Samantha says:

    Not very funny. In the first show, Martin tried to explain to kids how to NOT act proper by rubbing a ceramic vase on his rear end. What’s funny about that? Nothing. Maybe a 13-year-old would be amused.

  25. Poppycock. The show offers a refreshing throwback to a genre that many of us miss, and it is damn funny. How closely did the writer of this review watch the program? (Thompson did not make a brief guest appearance…he is part of the regular cast, as far as I can see.) Perhaps the writer should focus more attention on the vast array of material out there on the internet that this piece refers to (largely crap) and redirect more effort toward critiquing YouTube videos of surfing cats and what not.

  26. Gail Piersol says:

    I hope this show lasts long enough to see what it can be. I think they are both very talented & can be very funny. i love seeing Maya Rudolph sing & do comedy-I used to love Martin Short’s comedy-(Ed Grimly-or other bizarre characters that were really funny)-but I wish he would stop doing characters that seem to be creepy & inappropriate around children-(Jiminy Glick)- that is not funny to me. The reason the old variety shows were so popular is the whole family could watch them. When you’re funny-you don’t have to be a go there. I think when this show is good-it’s very good-& I hope it continues to get better. I love variety shows & think there will always be a place for them if they are done well. -Good Luck to Maya & Marty-I will be watching.

  27. Lisa Longley says:

    I LOVE Maya & Marty!! This review is nonsense!!

  28. John Megan says:

    I saw the first show. Horrible. Decided to try the fourth. Horrible. Nothing funny, more SNL corny non-humor. The only reason this is still on is because Lorne knows where all the bodies are buried. The positive reviews, below, are probably from shills and production company relatives.

    • Vudsie Vaudrain says:

      I think that it will last the summer, mainly because it was created as a summer show to give the viewers something to look at besides “summer reruns”. Summer shows never get pulled because the viewing public can hold their collective noses for that long no matter how bad the show might be. I’m not saying that M&M is that bad, but it isn’t good enough to last during the regular season. A truly bright spot was the rap battle skit. That was very funny and I LOL’d several times.

  29. Mikhala the Great says:

    I really enjoy Maya & Marty.
    I like the variety show come-back

  30. Howard Sprengeler says:

    It’s not that funny. Short is not amusing in the least, he had his day. Maya is okay, not that funny. Kenan Thompson is probably the funniest person on the show. Maybe there needs to be a Kenan Thompson Show.

  31. I disagree wholeheartedly with your critique of Maya & Martin. I find it to be a rebirth of 60’s & 70’s variety shows, which I loved then and still do. The M’s do a great job and keep me laughing out loud.

  32. J Green says:

    I liked the show tonight. Loved the goodnight song by Maya.

  33. Dave Grylls says:

    How sad must you be not to have a good time watching this show. I was expecting a dredging out of more SNL brand humor but found myself laughing out loud at most of the skits, and pleasantly surprised by the song and dance. Lighten up people or go get some therapy to find out why you can’t laugh.

  34. bpshand says:

    Another Bi…y critic. I would normally lose interest in a show like this but this one catches me and holds on. Sorry, Maureen, but I think you’re full of it.

  35. divebars13 says:

    This show is great! I don’t know why it’s getting such bad reviews. It’s so much better than the stale, predictable show SNL has become. It’s energetic, fun, witty, and I love the variety format. It’s more entertaining than all of the reality shows, obstacle course shows, etc. finally, something worth watching on network tv. Are the reviewers too young or too old to appreciate this?

  36. Anna Garcia says:

    Pull the show. Amateur writing at best.

  37. Stacey says:

    Maya & Marty is terrific it’s what TV needs Enough with the cop shows Variety is where it’s at.

  38. Jane smith says:

    I have never posted regarding a show, but Maya and Marty is so poorly presented its hard not to say something. Great entertainers individually, but this format clearly does not work. A variety show is full of music, dance, and humor with talented entertainers… This show seems to be trying ” too hard” with its quick bits and episodes.
    Sad attempt for great talent- give the show to J. Fallon, and it may go somewhere…

  39. Lisa Marie says:

    Please Maureen Ryan. I swear I’ve never seen such a noncommittal review. This show is just what I needed in my life! It brought back absence of television from the 60’s and 70’s and is exactly what prime time needs these days. I love Mya and Marty and their comedy style! Keep at it guys and just remember critics share opintions….. And opinions are like assholes….everybody has one!

  40. Ed Squires says:

    What a great pairing of two fabulous entertainers!
    I’ve really been enjoying the first few episodes and can’t wait to see what’s in store. Don’t get me started on “The Proper Way” skit….I was laughing in tears! A few folks mentioned the Carol Burnett Show in comparison. I hope the network throws a lot of money into some of the skits, costumes, dancers and set designs like we saw in Carol’s show. Somebody better call over to QVC and get Bob Mackie’s attention. If you’re going to do this show…then do it! I’d be curious if a light, glossy and modern Sonny & Cher style set would work better for the intro and closing? Did somebody say book Cher?!! Stay tuned people…this might get bigger than many expected. I hope so.

  41. Randy says:

    Even with Steve martin’s cameo, this show was lame, but I hoped the second would be better. It wasn’t. No more DVR’ing for me!

  42. Les Vogt says:

    Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I think this show is great. I laughed more than I have at anything for a long time. The comedy is all over the map style-wise and some of it is very odd indeed… which I like. I think pairing Maya and Marty was inspired.

    • N. Woodland says:

      Yeah, maybe I like the “very odd indeed” But, I too, was laughing so hard it scared our dog. Which, hasn’t happened before. Glad, Les, you are out here with me!!!!! I’m looking forward to the next one for sure! N. Woodland :O)

  43. Bill R says:

    I was so looking forward to this, and I couldn’t agree more with the Reviewer. I watched the second episode and it was just awful. The writing is terrible. And, please tell the audience not to “hoot and holler” at jokes that aren’t even funny. It really turns off the viewing audience when people are howling at something that isn’t that funny. Let the comedy drive the audience, not the audience driving the comedy. It sounds like their friends are in the audience. Big mistake, and it will lead to the show being canceled. Plus, with that many Writers, they really don’t know how to hire Variety Show talent.

  44. BEVERLY RHETT says:

    As one who enjoyed and still enjoy the occasional variety show format. I welcome this show. After years of ratchet reality (tongue-in-cheek because I doubt they’re real) shows, I love seeing the campiness and skits that comprise the variety show genre. True, some sketches fell flat and/or went on too long, but I have hopes it’ll improve over time.

    • Richelle Lutz says:

      Give it up Beverly! It is obvious to me and all the other readers that you do not like variety television. The show has only been on two times. They’re going to have to find their hitch. As a whole, I think they’re doing great! Just like the rest of us have said, “give them a chance Beverly”! How many tries did it take you to learn to ride a bike, to drive a car or anything else that’s good in life! I love the expression, “Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels”! Don’t be such a heel and give this program some time! Richelle Lutz Sent from my iPhone

      >

  45. Tosie says:

    I love maya and marty. Reminds me of the carol Burnette show with a little touch of snl. Lets give the show a fair chance.

  46. JD says:

    Love both actors but this is just bad,bad,bad

  47. Vudsie Vaudrain says:

    I had high hopes for the show. I like Maya Rudolph and Martin Short. They’re versatile actors with much to offer. Problem(s) is (are) that there seems to be no real chemistry between Maya and Marty. Martin Short is great in small, brilliant bursts, but extended exposure to his smarmy, over- the- top personality is too much. Keep him in character sketches: lounge singer Jackie Rogers, Jr.; songwriter Irving Cohen; oddball Ed Grimley, and the bombastic Jiminy Glic are his forte.
    I was willing to give the second show a look, seeing as how Steve Martin and Tina Fey were appearing, but even they couldn’t rescue the show. Lorne Michaels trying to revive variety shows? Variety shows were what he detested and didn’t want Saturday Night Live to be when he created the show. Now he hands us this? It used to be called a “summer fill in” until the real entertainment debuted in the fall.
    I think I’ll pass on the third show…..

    • Try the 3rd show. I thought the combination was great with actors. Thing is they are not together on every skit, and they each do great with different people as guests. I’m really thinking a lot of people are just being snarky and going along with a few critics. Just me, just sayin!!! Loved it.

    • Mary Lou says:

      I DVR’d last night’s Maya and Marty and just wasted 35 minutes of my life that I will never get back. I gave it one more shot after last week’s premier, but I done now

      • N. Woodland says:

        Wasted 35 minutes omg! I loved the show. I think there are so many other things that waste time in life. Saying they wasted your time, I think is really over reacting. Sorry, just how I feel. How would you feel if someone said you wasted their time while at your job or at a party you were entertaining? Just thinking. N. Woodland

  48. Susan Hochman says:

    I have seen this show twice already: the 1st & last time !
    I have been watching the show for only 9 minutes now & decided to write a review.
    Maya- NOT FUNNY and what was the whole Boob thing. So inappropriate needless to say.

    • N. Woodland says:

      So if you are having a party and someone is leaving and says to you: You have wasted my time, this was not fun, some people were inappropriate, needless to say. Cause I’m sure you knew they were being inappropriate. Yeah, they are show biz people. But, how would you feel if someone at your party said “been here 9 minutes, you are not entertaining enough, I’m going to write you a nastygram about why and I’m leaving. Btw, you are NOT FUNNY.

  49. Jennifer says:

    Loved the show, refreshing and reminded me of the shows that were on when I was a kid. It’s great to see Martin Short back on tv and Maya Rudolph is so funny and talented. This article has it all wrong.

    • N. Woodland says:

      Thank you Jennifer!!!! I agree. I think everyone is just being hyper-critical because of a couple reviews. I’d like to see all these people that are saying it’s bad get up and do better. I thought almost all of it was hilarious. The Drake thing was great, the kidnapped was funnier than funny. They had great guests. Thanks again.

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