Move over, Amy Schumer.
Take a break, Mindy Kaling.
This summer, the funniest woman on television is Maya Rudolph.
She’s half of the titular “Maya & Marty” (10 p.m. Tuesdays), NBC’s attempt to revive the old-fashioned variety show — you know, those ancient programs hosted by the likes of Carol Burnett and Sonny and Cher and Donny and Marie. They’d sing and dance and act in skits, cavorting with an endless stream of celebrity buddies.
The new series isn’t exactly a gem. The skits are sometimes amusing, sometimes not. And the titular “Marty,” comic actor Martin Short, tries very hard to be droll but doesn’t always succeed.
But one element is always funny. And that element is MayaRudolphium.
The SNL alum gives 11,000 percent of herself to every comedic trick in the book, complete with googly eyes and goofy accents. As a waitress/aspiring singer who sings a slow-jam birthday song to a talent scout seeking “the next Adele,” Rudolph flaps her arms like a chicken in a straitjacket and spits out, “IwannabeIwannbeIwannabeyourgift.” As a middle-aged New Yorker with a frozen face, she takes her son to dinner, wonders, “Are we in Swizzerlenth?” and, to adhere to her diet of “things that are white after Memorial Day,” orders “that water that pools at the top of a yogurt tub.”
Rudolph is more than just a beautiful clown. She’s got a sharp satiric edge. Wearing a replica of Melania Trump’s hair mane, she declares in an informercial for “Melania’s Edible Diamonds”: “We love diamond, but we all ask ourselves, why can we not eat it? Not anymore, you can’t.”
In a summer of tragic events and disturbing campaign rhetoric, Maya Rudolph is a batty breeze of relief. Her big eyes seem to look at the TV viewers who are looking at her and say, “Yeah, I know I’m being ridiculous but you’re laughing, aren’t you?”
And you know what? She’s right!
More of Marc’s TV musings: