Maya & Marty Premiere

Maya & Marty: Is It the Variety Show We've Been Waiting For? — Grade It

Maya Rudolph and Martin Short came in like a wrecking ball on Tuesday with the debut of their new variety show Maya & Marty on NBC. Was it the best time ever or the biggest loser?

The new variety hour (whose title fails to mention third cast member Kenan Thompson) featured special guests Bernie Sanders Larry David, Tom Hanks, Miley Cyrus, Kate McKinnon, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon and the cast of Broadway’s Shuffle Along for a debut episode that felt an awful lot like Saturday Night Live — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In fact, that’s probably the best thing we can say about the series premiere, which played it safe and aimed to please. Missing were the random trapeze acts and D-list cameos that plagued Neil Patrick Harris’ primetime reality venture, as Rudolph, Short and Thompson relied on their own seasoned set of skills to entertain both the studio audience and viewers at home.

Lo and behold, our picks for best and worst sketches of the night:

BEST: THE ASTRONAUT
Tom Hanks played Gene, a man who really just wanted some time away from his wife. In an effort to catch up on Chicago Fire and spend more time with best friend Rod, Gene faked a 3-5 year NASA mission but kept making the mistake of not getting far away enough from home so his wife wouldn’t catch on to his deception. Three years later, a Skype call with his wife revealed he wasn’t actually on a spaceship, but instead in front of a backdrop in Rod’s living room. Whoops!

BEST: THE WAR IN WORDS: LETTERS FROM THE FRONT
SNL scribe Mikey Day made his debut as Civil War soldier Trenton, a man who wanted little more than thoughtful letters from his wife Elizabeth back at home. Unfortunately, she was incapable of writing a proper letter, and when he eventually suggested that she share a joke, all she sent him was one-fourth of a knock-knock joke. She later shared a picture with new friend Abraham Lincoln (because, sure), then disclosed that she had lost their newborn child in her final correspondence. The more bizarre her responses got, the funnier the sketch became.

HONORABLE MENTION: MELANIA TRUMP’S EDIBLE DIAMONDS
Rudolph essentially pulled out her impersonation of former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff last seen just days ago in SNL‘s Season 41 finale, but watching her chow down on various diamonds while attempting not to break character was truly hilarious. We are curious, however, just how far in advance this sketch was taped given that Kate McKinnon put in an appearance as Heidi Cruz.

WORST: JIMINY GLICK’S CELEBRITY SENSATIONS
Jiminy Glick really likes his own jokes — even when they’re anti-Semitic. Larry David quite enjoys them, too. Nonetheless, this interview segment was simply insufferable. Aside from a jab at David’s expense about his time on failed SNL rival Fridays, there was nothing particularly funny here. Short last played this character in a critically panned movie called Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; perhaps it’s best he never plays this character again.

WORST: LITTLE BIG SHOTS
Thompson’s Steve Harvey impression couldn’t save this miserable sketch that found Short and Fallon as precocious tots Tanner and Todd, brothers who enjoy doing impressions of Harvey on the toilet and using water bottles to make it look like they’re peeing uncontrollably. In the words of Thompson’s Harvey, “hell naw!”

What did you think of NBC’s latest take on 21st Century variety? Will you be spending Tuesday nights this summer with Maya & Marty (and Kenan)? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review. 

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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51 Comments
  1. Steven says:

    I’m not going to say that the Letters from the Front sketch was laugh-out-loud comic gold… but it was, all by itself, substantially funnier than the entire season of SNL put together.

    • jr. says:

      If this show fails, I believe it is because of The Little Big Shots sketch. It was so bad, I switched the show off immediately. Thinking they would put one of their best sketchs first to hook the audience, I could only then imagine how much worse the rest of the show was going to be. So, click. If they get a second episode, I suggest next time the lead with their best stuff. IMO

      • noel says:

        I agree that little big shots skit wasnt even funny

      • jp says:

        On the weirder side, after watching something on the dvr my husband happened upon nbc and when I saw the peeing I told him turn it off and I actually thought it was Steve Harvey. I was quite annoyed. So now I have to watch the show on dvr and go past that part.

        • Actually, I thought KT captured just how un-funny the ubiquitous Steve Harvey is. Whenever he and ESPN’s Chris Berman appear on my screen, I cannot leap for the remote fast enough to get them off my screen. I have a visceral dislike for those two guys unlike any other TV personality.

      • NJMark says:

        There’s some history behind this – the first sketch on “The Dana Carvey Show” (the cold opening, actually) turned the audience off, and they never recovered.

  2. Et al. says:

    West coast here. Thank you so much for mentioning Kenan Thompson has a major role in this. I almost made the mistake of watching tonight.

  3. molly says:

    It wasn’t Mikey Day’s primetime debut, he was on Kath & Kim!!!

  4. A.J. says:

    I thought the Jiminy Glick sketch was hysterical! That, edible diamonds and letters from the front were my favorites!

    • Kim R says:

      I agree! Jiminy Glick is so funny….Martin Short gold!! How can that have ended up in the “worst” category??

      • Jiminy Glick, like edible diamonds, is an acquired taste. I thought the movie, JG in Lalaland was hilarious.

      • Greg Cantin says:

        My thoughts as well. Glick was great. I gotta believe it’s not all that scripted as the 2 guys just kept on riffing off each other, barely able to keep straight faces.
        But yes, the Steve Harvey bit was complete crap. Gave the show a “B” Liked it!

    • schu says:

      Agreed! can’t believe it’s in the worst! Larry David was being so Larry David I couldn’t stop laughing, I thought it was the funniest of the night, so on point for both of their sense of humor

  5. James says:

    This was BAD. Like, really bad. It was like one of those F grade SNL episodes. I won’t be tuning back in. Love Martin Short and Maya Rudolph but this was just horrendous.

  6. fatalsin says:

    I just dont feel there is a place for scripted variety comedy shows like this right now in tv culture…

  7. Rama Dama says:

    Too bad, as I’ve always liked Maya Rudolph. However, I could tell by the promos that this would not end well, and it didn’t.

  8. This seemed like SNL for the weekday. And it might be due to all the SNL types showing up for this first episode. It was somewhat uneven, like SNL has been. Sometimes funny, sometimes not.
    There is a dearth of sketch comedy on TV these days, so everything is going to be compared to SNL. That’s probably bad.
    I’m not sure where this show is headed. Scripted sketch comedy isn’t very common, but again, the only thing we have to compare is SNL. It should have promise, would have to watch for awhile to see where it goes from here.

    • cuius says:

      “…so everything is going to be compared to SNL….” – not a very high bar

      • No, it’s not. But if that’s the only thing out there, that’s where the bar is.
        The show has a chance to set a higher bar. Until it does so, it will always be compared to SNL. And it might well be that way anyway, except we’ll be saying that it’s way better than SNL.

  9. CGS says:

    Martin Short is like Jack Black to me… Just really not funny but he always pops up in stuff that would be better with someone else. Same case here.

    • Et al. says:

      Agreed. He ruined episodes of both arrested development and Kimmy Schmidt.

    • David4 says:

      My favorite thing he has ever done was the drama Damages. He did a fine job and better than most of the ‘comedy’ that’;s written for him.

  10. Sunshine says:

    The entire show was god awful.

  11. Lulu says:

    I thought it was another SNL rerun. At least I got a good nap.

  12. EV says:

    ironically enough: “Was it the best time ever or the biggest loser?”
    –> the biggest loser was quite a hit, while “best time ever (with NPH)” was not :)

    so how should we answer this question?

  13. Shar says:

    Martin needs to dial it down, way down. A side note here but does anyone else wish that Miley would just stop all the nonsense and just sing. She has an amazing voice.

  14. Sally McLinn says:

    I watched as much as possible, and thought these two were cute hosts. They blended. I liked some of the skits, wasn’t sure where Gliminy was going or what to make of it. But I DID like the LIttle Big Shots segment. And I’m sure Steve Harvey would like it too.

  15. Joan Strank says:

    Those very talented people were very disappointing on the premiere of that show. The only sketch that amused me was the opening one with Tom Hanks. Hopefully next weeks show will be an improvement over what we witnessed last night!

  16. Margo says:

    I disagree about the Jiminy Glick sketch. I thought it was laugh out loud funny.

    • Bonnie Hicks says:

      I Absolutely love this show, combination of The Carol Burnett show &SNL! Are U really taking it off the air? If so,what a shame!We need >sitcoms, <cops,<Zombie shows…!I really love this show!Plse keep on air,I esp love Jiminy Glicks!💜M.short,but I've noticed same voicew/J.Glicks&ocean/seaguy!But,NTless,Please bring show back! So funny!Thank-you!

  17. Mary says:

    These are supposed to be professional comedians….how can they know that this stuff just was not funny…..

  18. Martin has a very good way of keeping the smile momentum going and Maya is there to catch any drops.

  19. Lyn says:

    Has the entertainment industry contracted a virus that makes them stupid? MR is not funny. MS is a scenery chewing ham who makes Harvey Korman seem subdued. And I won’t even go into how dreadfully miscast Alec Baldwin is going to be in the redo of Match Game. The Little Rascals would do better.

  20. T says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I never like Maya Rudolph – she just rubs me the wrong way and I don’t find her funny at all.

    • I think she has talent and skills, but personally I don’t find her hot at all, which is probably not a good thing. You kinda hope entertainers are appealing to the audience, but Maya really isn’t to me. But I don’t deny she has talent.

  21. sunshine says:

    It was perfectly awful. The Tom Hanks skit was getting to a joke but never got one. The rest were juvenile and crude. This is like a parody of the worst of SNL by someone who hates SNL.

  22. Even the bad ones where much better then anything on the air lately.

  23. iakovos says:

    OK. There are talented people, to be sure, but… Seems like derivative SNL and well, NBC already has SNL and late night shows hosted by SNL vets. And it seems as if Maya and MArty are trying too hard. They don’t need to.

    Everyone seems to be trying to remake the variety format but it is what it is. At least it is not a dating show or competition program or features kids.

  24. anorm says:

    I had high hopes for this show and looked forward to watching. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a while…anticipation for a new show! BUT HELL NAH. The Tom Hanks skit was cute, I liked the civil war sketch alot. I was completely turned off by the Melania Trump skit especially since Kate McKinnon does such a mean Hillary Clinton. Why no skit about blackberrys and emails? Super relevant right about now if you’re going to do political satire. BUT HELL NAH. I liked the Jiminy Glick skit because it seemed almost improv which was refreshing. The Broadway dancers were cool. but the rest…MEH.

  25. liame says:

    Same picks for best and worst sketches. I will continue to watch because I’m a huge Maya fan.

  26. Walkie says:

    Man the writer of this review missed the boat on Jiminy Glick. That has and always will be hilarious. This review almost seemed personal. Maybe Short or Rudolph refused an interview.

  27. big cheddar says:

    I don’t know why, but I loved the Jiminy Glick sketch – probably because Larry David seemed to really enjoy himself during it. The best sketch of the night was the Letters from the Front sketch. That was pretty genius.

  28. Loooou says:

    I like both Maya Rudolph and Martin Short. This show was a ‘D’ The Astronaut, Jiminy Glick and Letters from the front were just OK. The other skits were just awful.

  29. Nancy says:

    I thought the show was great! I thought Letters from the Front was hysterical, Miley was awesome, loved everything except the Steve Harvey sketch.

  30. DreamRose311 says:

    I’d rather have Best Time Ever back, it had actual variety and was something different, instead of spending my summer months with SNL 2.0. I really thought they’d have more to it, and hopefully they will in week 2. Fingers crossed.

  31. Myself says:

    So…. No love for Miley?
    Here’s the thing… I’m in with her performance. I’m literally playing it over, and over again. I mean… this girl hás só much talent om her pink thing when shr does serious music. That hole song was amaaaaaazing!!! Even Maya’s cameo on it felt amazing. But Miley’s Voice and performance was perfection. I’d buy a whole album of her singing this old jazzy amazing songs!!!

  32. Dave says:

    Why is this still on? I like SNL but not SNL lite.

  33. Bonnie Hicks says:

    I Absolutely love this show, combination of The Carol Burnett show &SNL! Are U really taking it off the air? If so,what a shame!We need >sitcoms, <cops,<Zombie shows…!I really love this show!Plse keep on air,I esp love Jiminy Glicks!💜M.short,but I've noticed same voicew/J.Glicks&ocean/seaguy!But,NTless,Please bring show back! So funny!Thank-you!

    • It’s going off the air because it’s only a 6 show run. It was never a season-long show. Whether it comes back or not depends on what NBC wants to do in the fall, or if they think it’s worth a midseason replacement slot. Or even another run as a summer show.

  34. bee says:

    Love , Love, LOVED IT! The incredible quality of creativity, humor and tempo were off the charts enjoyable!
    I laughed so much at Jiminy Glick as well as Maya’s genius intuitive talent, and Kenan’s subtle, yet spot on addition made this show a hit! Please encore!!!