Pop Culture

Maya Rudolph rejects Carol Burnett comparisons: 'There's no way that's real'

The heyday of the variety show is long gone, but comedian Maya Rudolph hopes to bring the classic TV staple back with her new small-screen special, "The Maya Rudolph Show." It's an effort that's led some to compare the former "Saturday Night Live" player to her own idol, variety legend Carol Burnett — but that's one compliment Rudolph's just not buying.

"Take that with a grain of salt," she said of the Burnett buzz during a Thursday morning visit to TODAY. "(It's) so nice, so flattering — there's no way that's real!"

While Rudolph said she's "flattered to even be associated with her aura" and credits Burnett for "cementing" what Rudolph does now, ultimately, "Carol is Carol."

Still, Rudolph is glad to follow in Burnett's TV footsteps with her own show.

"It's so funny, isn't it? We grew up with variety shows, and everyone watched them and everyone had one," Rudolph told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie. "It was kind of the norm for a performer-celebrity. It's the thing that I think taught me what I ended up doing on 'Saturday Night Live.' It's just part of my DNA, and it makes me happy."

Getting together with her old friends from "SNL" makes her happy too, and that's just what she'll do on her show, which will feature such familiar faces as Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen and Chris Parnell.

Former "SNL" player Fred Armisen joins Rudolph in her upcoming variety show.

"I think that they want to come to play because they love it too," she said of her pals. "It's the one thing we all miss. We miss playing together. When you get that chance, it's heaven."

Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes and Craig Robinson will be among the talent rounding out the one-off show, but it might not remain a one-off for long.

"I would personally love it if it were my job," Rudolph said. "I want to see how this goes; I want to see how people like it."

See how you like it when "The Maya Rudolph Show" airs May 19 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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