There were no Paris Hiltons hosting Saturday Night Live in 2022. No Justin Biebers, no Nancy Kerrigans, no Steven Seagals. In other words, no outright disasters. It was an uneven, uneventful year for the show in general but happily, the hosts handled their end of the bargain. Did anyone knock it out of the park? Check out our rankings of this year’s 21 SNL hosts below — not based on the overall quality of the episode but solely on host performance. Got it? Let’s get after it.
Dafoe’s best sketch was one in which he was doing a glorified cameo: He played an infomercial host hawking the Samurai Air Fryer in Chris Redd’s hilarious music video about being unable to sleep. Throughout the episode, the idiosyncratic actor seemed out-of-sync with the rest of the cast. Not your night, Willem.
Out of all the names on this list, Gleeson’s is the one most likely to make you say “who?” That doesn’t necessarily make the venerable character actor a poor host choice, but the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with him. There were funny sketches in this episode — a Try Guys parody, misguided advice for the new cast members — but Gleeson isn’t front and center in any of them. His best moment was in a pre-taped bit with Please Don’t Destroy as disturbing high school senior Tommy.
Meghan Thee Stallion
Meghan Thee Stallion pulled double-duty as host and musical guest. That’s always a tough assignment, but maybe not the explanation for why her episode seemed off somehow. Case in point: “Hot Girl Hospital,” a funny premise filled with winningly oddball performances, but an end result that was uneven and meandering.
Another double-duty host, Harlow fell squarely into the “pretty good for a music guy” category. He was game for anything the writers threw at him, but based on this episode, no one’s going to be lining up to give Harlow his own sketch show. His bland-guy deadpan worked best in this sketch about pitching a Pixar movie during an Addicts’ Anonymous meeting. He couldn’t help but crack up at his own punchlines.
Despite a sweet monologue, Isaac was an example of a host who simply wasn’t given enough to do. His standout sketch (and one of the year’s signature comedy bits) was “Meatballs,” essentially a showcase for Sarah Sherman and her squirm antics while Isaac was relegated to Meatball #2.
Cast members flirting with Gomez during her monologue came off as more creepy than crazy. This lackluster episode may best be remembered for pairing Gomez and Melissa Villaseñor in a Latina talk show sketch that got as many complaints as laughs. She was funnier interrupting Steve Martin and Martin Short later in the year.
The daughter of Lenny might seem like an odd comedy choice, but remember that Kravitz’s mom, Lisa Bonet, was on The Cosby Show, while her grandmother Roxie Roker starred on The Jeffersons. She’s practically sitcom royalty! So no wonder she showed off strong comic chops in this maid-of-honor speech to new bridezilla Cecily Strong.
A great job in a lousy episode, Gyllenhaal was relegated to straight-man duty in an amusing sketch about couples counseling. We know the guy can commit to full-blown lunacy, so was it Gyllenhaal’s fault that one of his funniest characters was inexplicably cut for time?
You know what happens when a number of longtime cast members say goodbye on the show you’re hosting? They are going to get the attention, not you. For example, Lyonne showed up in the cold open, but this was a final-bow spotlight performance for Kate McKinnon’s Colleen Rafferty. With more goodbye slots reserved for Pete Davidson and Aidy Bryant, there wasn’t a lot of featured sketch time left for Lyonne.
Sure, sure, Top Gun: Maverick star Teller is no Tom Cruise. Lorne Michaels would have hijacked a million flight plans to land that guy for the season opener. But Teller likely made for a better SNL host, surprising with his dead-on Peyton Manning impression. And he killed it as a yoked Grimace, swerving his way through McDonaldland.
Stand-up comics have a built-in advantage hosting SNL — they know what they’re doing in front of a crowd. But when you have your own sketch comedy show like Schumer, you’re a double ringer. Schumer was her usual solid self in an uneven episode that was through no fault of its host. We particularly loved Schumer embracing her inner Big Dumb Hat.
Hosting Cecily Strong’s last show was a recipe for being relegated to the background, but Butler left an impression as Casual Elvis dueting with Strong on “Blue Christmas.” Butler also delivered an unexpectedly heartfelt monologue about watching SNL as a kid with his mother, who recently passed. He showed off crazy charisma throughout the night, and we couldn’t get enough of his Marzipan.
With his Peacock show, it’s not like we never get to see MacGruber anymore, but these 30-second bits might be where the character works best. (And of course Mac is an antivaxxer.) Forte let his freak flag fly all night, from “an experienced third” in a birthday sex threesome, to a sadistic kiddie game show host, to deranged country-western singer Clancy T. Bachleratt. Lean into your weirdness, current cast!
Not many sketches got more buzz this season than “Kenan and Kelly,” an idea Palmer brought to the table herself. Awww yeah, pass the orange soda! In her amazing hosting debut, Palmer made national headlines by revealing her baby bump during her monologue. But for pure comedy, we were partial to her Hello Kitty sketch.
It was Carmichael’s comedy year, which was reinforced by his turn on the 30 Rock stage. He delivered a strong monologue on that week’s Chris Rock/Will Smith debacle, then followed it up with a great sketch about an Oscar seat-filler who just happened to be assigned a place next to the Fresh Prince himself. It’s unclear how well these will age, but they provided great in-the-moment laughs.
There’s just something so likable about Lizzo that she couldn’t help but succeed as host. Her monologue killed while setting a new SNL land-speed record for uttering the word “bitch.” She more than held her own in sketches as well, hitting home runs as an idiot game show contestant and the greatest twerking flutist of all time.
DeBose kicked off the night with a charming musical performance with West Side Story superfan Kate McKinnon, and she was hilarious as the mayor’s spokesperson in a sketch with Chris Redd. As she kept shining throughout the episode, you came away feeling like she’d make a great cast member herself.
Should Cumberbatch be even higher on this list? Our favorite sketch of Season 47 might be the one in which old-timey rancher Mutton joined a focus group to taste-test Blue Bunny ice cream. This particular bit was as good as SNL gets in any season.
Steve Martin and Martin Short
Should we just call them Steve Martin Short since the duo is essentially a package deal these days? Seriously — when was the last time you saw one without the other? SMS was virtually foolproof as a hosting combo platter, with so much sketch comedy experience under their collective belts as to make them incapable of a lousy show. The fact that the two legends can be so prickly with each other just added to the fun.
We know, we know. But as far as straight-up hosting goes? Chappelle killed it again. His playing-with-fire monologue skated right up to the edge of wrongheadedness (or right over it, according to the Anti-Defamation League). But SNL rarely gets better than Chappelle forcing comedy Wonder Bread Mikey Day into a sketch about Black Heaven.
If anything, Mulaney is a victim of his own SNL success. All-time sketches like his scuzzy New York musicals and Cupid Shuffle wedding receptions are so great that they demand encores (which invariably aren’t as good as the originals). And yet, no one delivered a more vulnerable, honest and caustic monologue than Mulaney’s post-rehab confessional. And just in case you thought he was only capable of sketch retreads, here came defense attorney Cecily Strong and Mulaney’s incredible Monkey Judge. (Yeah, they’ll probably bring Judge Tango back, too.)