How Maya Rudolph Became the Master of Impressions

This beautiful piece in The New York Times Magazine last weekend about Maya Rudolph is one of the best things I've read in a while.

Reading and picturing this scene had me laughing out loud ... 
She was telling the story of the time she was bitten by a black-widow spider while getting a massage on a girls’ vacation that many comedy fans might commit real-life murder to attend, with her “Saturday Night Live” friends Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer and the writers Paula Pell and Emily Spivey. Rudolph was doing an impression of Gasteyer the moment Rudolph explained to her that she was possibly about to die.

Her Gasteyer was a 120 percent concentration: angular head movements; precise intentional blinks; a modulated operatic voice — classic Gasteyer, but swirled with the essential oils of her performance as a tightly wound 1990s Martha Stewart. Rudolph’s account of the fiasco was bursting with rollicking impressions — Poehler taking charge with peppy fortitude; Dratch trying to discreetly escape to a shower — but to print the transcript would be a disservice to Rudolph, because the transcript is simply not funny. The element that brings tears of laughter to your eyes is not the words themselves, but the curious, thrilling sensation of witnessing other people’s faces and voices emerge from Rudolph’s own.
And the reflection of her mother's death and childhood is heart-wrenching. I had no idea who her mother was until I read this, but I most definitely know “Lovin’ You.” After reading this, I pulled up the song and listened. My heart melted at the sound of Riperton singing “Maya, Maya, Maya” at the end of the track. 

I can hardly wait to give “Forever,” her new series with Fred Armisen a try. 

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