Maya Rudolph on SNL: Will She Impersonate Whitney Houston? Should She? And If So, How?
Whitney Houston‘s untimely death in a Beverly Hills hotel suite last weekend has raised a huge question in the Saturday Night Live writers’ room: Whether or not to build a sketch around the late pop star when Maya Rudolph, who is known for her legendary Houston impersonation, makes her hosting debut this coming Saturday.
TVLine has learned that SNL is indeed considering such a skit, although an NBC spokesperson declined to confirm the information. “As you know, the show never comments on potential show content,” said the rep. “As Maya impersonated Whitney, it’s a natural question, but one [to which] we do not have an answer.”
My initial gut reaction to the idea of a Whitney-centric sketch? It’s simply too soon. After all, the sad truth is that Houston leaves behind a teenage daughter, and there’s no ignoring that the singer’s battles with drug addiction and sometimes erratic public behavior had often reduced her to a punch line for comedians and pundits over the last decade. And with Houston’s funeral reportedly scheduled for Saturday, SNL would be reviving the late star’s image only hours after she is laid to rest.
But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there aren’t scenarios in which an SNL sketch could be an homage to Houston, could celebrate her contributions to pop culture, and help heal the broken hearts of her fans with the stuff that Reader’s Digest always reminds us is the best medicine: Laughter.
Looking back at Rudolph’s surprise appearance as Houston on SNL‘s Dec. 3 episode — she popped up alongside host Steve Buscemi on Vanessa Bayer’s Miley Cyrus Show (embedded below) — the Up All Night actress’s caricature is decidedly loopy, a little bit haughty, but certainly lovable. And that got me thinking about a few ways SNL could employ Rudolph’s Whitney in a way that’s tactful and entertaining.
1 | Whitney judges The Voice from heaven | Sure, NBC’s buzzy singing competition doesn’t feature any “bad” vocalists, but what about when you compare ‘em to the woman who was frequently referred to as “THE VOICE”? Who better to point guns of harsh truth at the wannabes tackling “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing” — and maybe bring a copyright-infringement suit against the show and network itself?
2 | Or alternately, Whitney descends from heaven to heckle Jennifer Lopez judging American Idol | Imagine one of the most celebrated power balladeers in music history having a laugh over the tinny-voiced dancer sitting in judgment of other singers? This one’s almost too easy.
3 | Whitney pays a visit to Lindsay Lohan in a nightclub bathroom | No one on Earth seems to be able to get through to the rapidly spiraling young actress: But we’d bet Whitney might be able to scare the once-promising Mean Girls star straight with frequent/spirited repetition of her Being Bobby Brown catchphrase: “Hell to the no!” (Bonus points if Lohan happens to tune in to this week’s telecast.)
4 | Whitney stages a coup to become Heaven’s choir director | Not sure who’s in charge up there currently — Luther Vandross? Janis Joplin? Patsy Cline? — but they’d better make way for Whitney!
What do you think? Is it too soon for SNL to go near Whitney? (Obviously, the show made the right decision not to build a sketch around her during last week’s telecast, on the day of her death.) Or are there scenarios where a sketch could provide welcome relief? Take our poll below, then hit the comments!