8 Comedy Greats Who Have Never Hosted SNL
It’s fun to see Lizzo, Rami Malek, and Natasha Lyonne getting their turns hosting Saturday Night Live. But -- no offense, Lizzo -- what’s up with all the comedy greats who are still waiting their turn? We love to see an out-of-the-box celeb get a chance to be silly, but there's a reason the best episodes feature hosts with comic chops. Here’s our countdown of the eight biggest comedy stars to have never taken center stage at 30 Rock.
NBC has long used SNL to plug its biggest comedy hits. In the 1990s, most of the casts of Seinfeld and Friends got their turns (sorry, Kramer and Joey). In the 2000s, The Office’s Steve Carrell, Rainn Wilson, and Ed Helms all got the spotlight. So if Parks and Recreation was arguably the Peacock’s biggest comedy hit of the 2010s, why was Amy Poehler the only cast member to get the nod? (OK, Chris Pratt did it, but Parks was canceled and he was promoting Guardians of the Galaxy 2).
Where the heck was Ron Swanson? Offerman has the comedy chops to pull off a great night, and we could likely count on a cameo from Parks costar Amy Poehler.
SNL Fun Fact: Offerman’s wife, Megan Mullaly, hosted in 2004. And his Parks castmate Aubrey Plaza interned for the show, eventually auditioning (and not getting cast) a year before she joined Offerman in Pawnee.
Gervais caused such a sensation on NBC’s broadcasts of the Golden Globes that you’d think the network would have wanted to cash in.
The guy also created and starred in arguably the most influential comedy of the century so shouldn’t that count for something? On shows like Extras and After Life, Gervais has proven that he can do more than David Brent, although we wouldn’t mind 90 minutes of Wernham-Hogg’s most inept paper manager. For that matter, one long celeb-skewering monologue would probably do it for us as well.
SNL Fun Fact: Gervais filmed an intro to a cringey Japanese Office parody when Steve Carell hosted.
You’d think starring in the biggest comedy hit of 2022 (The Lost City) would count for something? Without a lot of big movies, comedies or otherwise, opening in early 2022, this spring seemed like a perfect opportunity for Bullock to finally host the show.
Of course, you could say the same thing during her decades of starring in hit romantic comedies, proving so much funnier than contemporaries like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson. Let’s get her on before we find ourselves in a Betty White situation.
SNL Fun Fact: Somehow, Bullock’s Speed co-star Keanu Reeves has never received the SNL nod either.
Speaking of Betty White situations: How is it that Mel Brooks has never taken the SNL stage? The now-actually-almost-2000 Year Old Man wrote and performed for Your Show of Shows, basically SNL before SNL ever existed. Plus, he’s got to be the funniest guy to ever complete the EGOT, earning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards for his comedy work.
At 95 years old, it’s probably too late for Mel, but Betty pulled it off at 88. Put Mel in a comfortable chair and just let the show rotate around him.
SNL Fun Fact: Mel’s son and future World War Z author Max Brooks was a Saturday Night Live writer from 2001 to 2003. You couldn’t get a spot for Pop?
Sacha Baron Cohen
Cohen has made multiple SNL appearances over the years. He showed up on the Weekend Update desk as The Dictator, holding Martin Scorsese hostage and forcing him to endorse the new film. A few years earlier, Lorne Michaels announced during a cold open that he had sold the first five minutes of the show to a foreign government, giving way to Cohen’s Borat, who brought down the house.
Which raises the obvious question: Why not just host the show? Cohen is a performer born for sketch comedy, creating a number of outrageous characters over the years that would translate easily to the late-night show. Let’s get this one done.
SNL Fun Fact: Kate McKinnon played Rudy Guiliani in a cold open spoof of his disastrous appearance in Borat Subsequent MovieFilm.
So many SNL alums return to host the show, and not just cast members. Conan O’Brien and John Mulaney, for example, were SNL writers who found comedy fame elsewhere only to return to the show in triumph. So … why not Odenkirk?
It’s not like the guy can’t do sketch comedy. His Mr. Show with David Cross influenced a generation of sketch comedians, and Odenkirk still shows up on Tim and Eric projects as well as Mr. Show revivals. He also wrote iconic SNL sketches like Chris Farley’s original Matt Foley bits. It’s time to welcome the prodigal son home.
SNL Fun Fact: Maybe the reason Odenkirk hasn’t returned is that he didn’t have a great time on the show? “I basically had a huge chip on my shoulder, and mix that in with Lorne’s traditional intimidation and it’s not good. I didn’t respond to the way he likes to approach young performers and set himself up as some kind of very distant, strange Comedy God.”
Unlike Odenkirk, Kaling has “a childhood dream” of being on Saturday Night Live. That dream almost came true while she was employed as a writer for The Office. Kaling got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to audition for the show and it went “pretty well” -- but not quite good enough. SNL offered her a writing job, but not one as a performer.
Her bosses at The Office were willing to let Kaling out of her contract if she got a spot as an on-screen comic, but wouldn’t let her leave for just a writing gig. “It was really a life-changing thing,” she says. “I think the course of my career would have gone really differently had I left The Office and done that instead.” Now that she’s followed up The Office with The Mindy Project, isn’t it time to make her dream come true?
SNL Fun Fact: The boss who wouldn’t let Kaling out of her Office contract to write for SNL? That’s Greg Daniels, who previously was a writer … for SNL.
This one is unforgivable. Let’s look at the bona fides: A Second City alum who performed sketch comedy alongside Steve Carell and Amy Sedaris. A Daily Show vet whose “Stephen Colbert” character was funny enough to spin off into The Colbert Report. And his own late-night comedy show that currently leads all of the big contenders in the ratings.
If that’s not enough, he’s publicly asking for the gig! He told Seth Meyers that he’d love to host the show, lamenting that his mediocre Lorne Michaels impression might be the thing holding him back. As for Lorne? When The Hollywood Reporter asked the producer who he regretted passing over in auditions, his first response was “Stephen Colbert.” (Colbert tried out in the 1990s). Well, Lorne, here’s your chance to set things straight.
SNL Fun Fact: Colbert and Robert Smigel co-wrote an Ambiguously Gay Duo movie script for Jim Carrey. It never got made, though Colbert did appear as a villain when Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon did a live-action version of the cartoon sketch on SNL.
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