Maya Rudolph talks new film 'The Way, Way Back', and Jerry Lewis’ stance on female comics

Maya Rudolph may be funny – really funny – but according to the actress, her life is pretty ordinary.

The 40-year-old mother of three (who’s expecting her fourth child with filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson) can soon be seen in the new film, The Way, Way Back, an indie flick celebrating teen awkwardness, but describes her own childhood and upbringing as “boring.”

Despite growing up in Los Angeles, as the daughter of soul singer Minnie Riperton, she doesn’t recall any wild periods.

“I wasn’t angst-y,” Rudolph tells theGrio. “I never, like, dyed my hair. I wasn’t that cool. I did tell [co-star Sam Rockwell] about my bad hair, which was when I was 14. I would take the front, and I would flip it up, and then I would take a piece with gel, and just have it hanging. It was because that was the 80’s.”

From childhood aspirations to stardom

Other than experimenting with her coif, Rudolph says she primarily dreamed of getting a job at a geeky local gift store named Oz, or working at summer camp. Either opportunity would have provided a carefree existence much like the sentiment she feels for her film.

“Those counselors in Meatballs were the coolest people ever,” she says, referencing the 1979 comedy flick. “I wanted to be cool like that.”

Some might say Rudolph has far surpassed the barometers of camp coolness, considering her status as an A-list comedian in Hollywood.

Over the years, the actress has progressed substantially from her roots on stage to the big screen, earning her credentials through a successful run on Saturday Night Live.

Rudolph got her start as a member of the L.A. theater troupe The Groundlings, and credits her acting abilities with her work in the theater. She joined the cast of SNL in 1999, and spent eight years performing for the sketch show.

“You forget when you’re not doing it how the connection with people in a room is so incredibly important,” Rudolph explains. “You’re not just doing something in a vacuum. You’re actually getting a laugh, or getting a response, or performing for the people in the room. It’s a very different feeling. Physically, the energy is very different.”

Surprisingly, she says many of her colleagues in the business have not chased the same opportunities. While she always gravitates back to live performance, others avoid it.

“I try and do it often as I’m able to,” the actress remarks. “I thought it was really interesting too, all the years of doing SNL, so many hosts had never done theater. I mean it’s different for everyone. So many people say, ‘How do you do this?’ It’s interesting the routes that people have taken, and then they absorb it and love it, or sometimes they don’t.”

Women are definitely funny

Along with fellow SNL vets Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler, Rudolph has seamlessly transitioned from live entertainment to the scripted world of film and television. Most recently, she starred in the TV show, Up All Night, as well as films like Friends with Kids, Grown Ups and Bridesmaids, for which she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

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