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SNL's "Coffee Commercial" Is Based on This Real Lauren Bacall Ad from 1982

Host Maya Rudolph busted out her best facial expressions for a May 11 sketch inspired by a camp-classic commercial.

By Samantha Vincenty

As a performer, Maya Rudolph has a host of sharp tools in her arsenal: Excellent timing, ace celebrity impression talents, a great singing voice, and a seemingly endless array of unhinged facial expressions. Rudolph brought it all to her May 11 Saturday Night Live episode, and especially drew on the latter in the "Coffee Commercial" sketch co-starring Bowen Yang and Heidi Gardner.

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

The sketch, in which Rudolph plays a "three-time Oscar-presenting" actress named Dawn Farraway, has an easter egg: It's based on a real decaf coffee commercial that's become a camp classic online decades later, starring screen legend Lauren Bacall. 

"Coffee Commercial" opens with a conversation between the ad's director (Yang) and the client rep (Gardner) for Tip Top Coffee as they await Faraway's arrival. 

"Aren't you nervous? I've heard she makes directors cry," the client says. 

"Oh, don't believe what you read in the rags — she's a legend," Yang's director answers.

The two, and the commercial's crew, soon discover the rumors are true.

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Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live Episode 1863

Maya Rudolph's expressions are the star of SNL's "Coffee Commercial"

Rudolph's Dawn Farraway speaks with the clipped diction of a hyper-dramatic classic film star, getting hopped up (or so she thinks) and gassed up on the brew.

"I can't stop drinking it," she raves, as a production assistant (Mikey Day) refills her cup.

"Oh, are you a coffee connoisseur?" the client asks.

"I've never had it before," Farraway answers. "My doctor said, 'do not'." 

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It soon becomes clear why, as she films takes and intermittently demands that various staff members leave the set. Rudolph's face and eyes are a riot as she explains the noises coming from her body (she claims frogs are doing it, and "they're ruining my take"). 

Can Dawn Farraway finally nail the spot, collecting her 8 million dollar fee? Watch Maya Rudolph's "Coffee Commercial" sketch above.

Maya Rudolph during her monologue on Saturday Night Live Episode 1863

Lauren Bacall's High Point coffee ad inspired the sketch

In 1982, movie star Lauren Bacall starred in a commercial for the decaf instant coffee brand High Point. Though the advertisement is over 30 years old, it's made the rounds online in recent years, in part due to the over-the-top lines Bacall delivers, and her sultry, ultra-committed delivery. 

“Did you know that High Point is decaffeinated? I’ll tell you a secret: Caffeine sometimes makes me tense," the To Have and Have Not star tells the camera. "And tension can show on your face. In my profession, you have to look your best. Look, I set high standards for myself, I set high standards for my coffee. That’s why High Point is number one with me!”

Through the years, Bacall's lines have been quoted, lip synced in TikToks, and performed on drag stages across the U.S. — because it's a national treasure.

Watch Lauren Bacall's High Point coffee ad, and watch SNL on NBC and Peacock, streaming next day on Peacock.