Five Unexpectedly Great ‘SNL’ Hosts
Some Saturday Night Live hosts just seem like naturals for the gig. Even if Steve Martin (16-time host) and Martin Short (4-time host and Season 10 cast member) didn’t have long histories with the show, you’d expect them to kill it based on their stand-up and sketch comedy experience. Other hosts seem less likely candidates for success — just this past season, music stars like Megan Thee Stallion and athletes like Travis Kelce took the stage with nothing in their backgrounds to suggest that they might be secretly hilarious.
That led Redditor nialldude3 to ask a question this week in the r/LiveFromNewYork subreddit: “Is Justin Timberlake the most shockingly good SNL host?” While few disputed boy-band veteran Timberlake’s reputation as an SNL legend, others offered other unlikely hosts that way exceeded viewer expectations. (As always, Redditor language and punctuation are left in their original Reddit-ready versions.)
“I remember when Peyton was on and I thought it was going to be a disaster,” wrote blakjak66. “Happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. The United Way ad is still one of the funniest bits ever.”
“Same,” agreed nightowl. “So many cheesy commercials where he was like a mechanical wooden doll then he fucking killed it on SNL — I lost it when he went all Training Day on those kids.”
Chance the Rapper
“Chance the Rapper is my most unexpected favorite host,” answered iowaboy. “Openings are tailored to his talents and funny/engaging, consistently great sketches, and the musical guests were fun.”
“Chance's out-of-place sports reporter is one of my favorite characters,” added SmashKetchum.
“I dont even like his music, so I didnt expect much,” posted Tiamore97. “He really surprised me with his episode. His episode is probably one of my fav in that season.”
With four hosting appearances under his belt, Charles Barkley could become the first athlete enshrined in SNL’s Five Timers Club. “Charles Barkley deserves a mention because most of his sketches are basically ‘let’s make this throwaway character sound like Charles Barkley’ and it has a pretty good success rate,” explained Shimola1999.
Wide_Answer concurred: “Barkley is the perfect example of someone who’s not a good actor, but he’s so naturally funny and charming that it just works.”
While an accomplished actor, Adam Driver usually plays brooding, morose sorts so it’s understandable why many Redditors were surprised by his comic skills. Many called out his performance in “Career Day” as a standout.
“I can’t believe how much he commits to that character/scene,” said u/Rdw7277. “It’s just insane.”
“(Timberlake) was good on that show. But who impressed me just as much was Harry Styles,” argued RockWaterDirt. “He was a confident actor.”
“I was really impressed by Harry Styles too!” added u/roxy301. Styles’ thirsty Sara Lee social media manager was a particular favorite. “He was so good in that,” said RockWaterDirt. “He created a character.”