While raising your first child is a hair-raising (and tearing) experience, NBC’s adorably delightful Up All Night has also done a brilliant job of showing what it’s like for your childless friends when Pampers and playgroups suddenly become part of your routine.
And Maya Rudolph has proven to be the perfect person to mine that experience for the maximum amount of humor. Her character, the grandiosely great Ava, has also drawn big laughs from embarking on her first real relationship, continuing her talk show “reign” and figuring out why society doesn’t share her unique viewpoint.
Maya recently sat down with ETonline to talk all about creating this smashing character, how she keeps Ava from becoming a caricature and what you can expect from the show’s 2012 episodes!
ETonline: It’s been so interesting watching Up All Night evolve over the course of season one. What has the the process of watching the show find its legs been like for you?
Maya Rudolph: It’s strange. I’m certainly getting adjusted to it too. When I’ve been a part of creating characters on Saturday Night Live, they sometimes last for one episode, sometimes they come back, but you never really have to constantly go back and make sure things track and make sense. It’s taking me some time to get used to, to be perfectly honest. It’s funny you say “watch the show find its legs” because I had no idea if we’re even close to there yet. I feel like we’re doing a make-believe show in my parents backyard and friends are coming over saying, “Loved your show.” It’s odd still but I’m glad people are responding to it.
ETonline: I think Ava has changed the most since the pilot — what was important to you in that process?
Rudolph: We’ve definitely softened her up a lot since the first episode. When I knew I was playing opposite the family with the baby, I didn’t want to turn into Cruella DeVille. Simply because I don’t personally find that attitude towards babies funny. I wanted to find the enjoyment in playing her as well. To me, what’s funny about someone who’s clueless when it comes to babies is simply the clueless part. I love playing up that side of her, so I knew that combined with her career changing to a talk show would be more fun.
ETonline: You and Emily Spivey [creator] worked together for years on SNL and Lorne Michaels is the executive producer — has the community created by SNL surprised you?
Rudolph: Yea. It’s been great that way. I never expected that and I think that’s because Lorne never wants anyone to go too far. Which is a nice feeling because I always felt like my exit [from SNL] wasn’t permanent. It’s my own issue but I don’t feel like I properly left the show. For a long time I felt like this lingering SNL ghost who just showed up and roamed the halls. “Oh, there she is again, the old ghost of 8H!” It’s impossible for me to stay away and it’s great to get a fix every once in a while.
ETonline: No complaints here! Do you have any desire to host?
Rudolph: I’d love to! If and when that day ever comes, I think it would be so fun. Especially now that I still have friends in that cast – there’s nothing better than playing with your friends.
ETonline: I feel like that familiarity is one of the reasons Up All Night works — you three truly seem like friends.
Rudolph: Thanks for saying that! It is definitely the place where things have to connect to make a show work – especially on our show because they bring the two worlds together. It’s something we’re always checking and rechecking to make sure it make sense. I established my character in the pilot as having this grandiose personality based on who I thought she was. Then we had to bring that to the new version of Ava – I needed to make sure she was the kind of person who would really exist on this planet earth. Because sometimes I love nothing more than making her big … I don’t know if it works for the show – but it works for me [laughs].
ETonline: Like when she pronounces words (dia-munds, in-sah-ne) in her Ava-esque way?
Rudolph: Yes [laughs] exactly. It’’ something I can’t put my finger on but I know Spivey and I have been writing in that strange coded language for a while and I really respond to it. The things about her that I think are just shy of crazy or completely insane are my favorites. Today we were working on a scene and reconfigured a line that made her less cruel towards the idea of bringing a baby on a plane like a Pomeranian in a purse. We ended up flipping it around so she was asking, “Don’t they make a baby carrier like that where you can carry her like a Pomeranian?” It’s genuinely funnier to me that she thinks those exist. I like when she takes things a step further.
ETonline: Like the baby wallet?
Rudolph: Exactly. I think they should start marketing them. They could certainly sell them at the NBC store – wink wink, nudge nudge. I do think they could make some bank. And it should just say on the wallet: “It’s a Tradition – Everybody Knows About It!” [laughs]
ETonline: Can we expect more of that when the show returns?
Rudolph: Yes, definitely. You’ll also see some new characters – perhaps a love interest for Missy. You’ll also see a bit of Ava’s softer side because there’s some trouble in paradise ahead for Ava and Kevin. Another episode has Regan’s competitive side coming out, which is quite hilarious.
ETonline: Alanis Morissette also comes on the show, can we expect more of Ava’s signature music?
Rudolph: In that episode, Alanis plays a former member of my pop group form the 90s – I think it’s called Sound LLC. I’m officiating her wedding and there’s a possibility for a musical reunion.
Up All Night debuts on a new night, at a new time tonight at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.