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Reacquainting oneself with the sublime

Maya-rudolf-kimmy-schmidt

To paraphrase Luca Turin, familiarity with too much middling content is bound to turn anyone into a curmudgeon. How blessed then, is the feeling of awakening, like the last ten seconds of so many allergy pill commercials, when something comes along to clap you on the back with the radiant sublime. All the more singular for its breezy, off-the-cuffiness, Maya Rudolph's life-giving turn as not one but three variations on a seafaring Dionne Warwick is the stuff 5 hour energy drinks are made of. It is giving me life. It is blowing the doors off and removing my socks. It is the knees of the bees, dear readers. 

In advance of the release of what turned out to be a staggeringly insufficient batch of only six freaking episodes of the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I was rewatching the previous season. Maya Rudolph's performance in Season 3 Episode 8 floored me the first time I saw it, but revisiting it by accident was a rare, goofy paradise. 

Her first take on Warwick is an improv fever dream, recognizable somehow as the woman herself but less an impression than an iteration. I can't think of another actor alive or dead who could pull it off. Maya Rudolph, always just barely on the sweet and silly side of deranged, imagines an alternate universe Warwick, needling Titus Andromedon with schoolyard logic and a diva's grace. Every time the camera cuts to her the action rises. We, like Titus, are completely in her hands. 

But then as if this undeserved slice of heaven weren't enough, she offers us two more versions: a predictably bumbling telethon host, and, most affectingly, as Titus's daffy mentor. I'd cash out my 401(k) just to watch her eat baby corn. Luckily, I don't have to; it's all available streaming online. And if that doesn't simultaneously inflame and soothe my inner curmudgeon, nothing will. 

Vincent Malouf