‘SNL’ Five-Timer Emma Stone Takes Victory Lap As Season’s Strongest Host

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‘SNL’ Five-Timer Emma Stone Takes Victory Lap As Season’s Strongest Host

Earlier this fall, I predicted Emma Stone was the most likely of the dozen possible four-time candidates to become the next member of Saturday Night Live’s Five-Timers Club. But if I were really smart, I would have forecast that she also would deliver the strongest hosting stint of Season 49. 

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Let’s get the Awarding of the Smoking Jacket out of the way — Stone’s monologue was her coronation, welcomed into the Five-Timers ladies’ wing by Tina Fey and Candice Bergen. I’ve argued that the Five-Timers Club has become a tired concept with too many members, but the comedy passing of the torch by two SNL icons is a good reminder of the show’s storied history. The open was funny because, well, Tina Fey, but the presence of Bergen somehow validated Stone’s honorific — it means something to take one’s place among the legends of the game. 

Stone’s brightest moment came during “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” exactly the kind of taking-weirdo-chances sketch that SNL needs to try more often. Stone played Mitch Lester, a gray-Afroed, chain-smoking music producer helping Mama Cass (Chloe Troast, climbing the ladder faster than any featured player in recent memory) make music history back in 1969. The song will be a hit, promised Lester, but in 40 years, it will reach its true destiny as an ironic soundtrack for zombie killings. As the screen narrowed into feature-film aspect ratio, Stone turned into a monster murderer, taking out record execs in exquisite slow-motion. 

The music kept going for “Fully Naked in New York,” Stone and Bowen Yang’s joyful ode to beating depression through public nudity. If you’ve ever wanted to see an unclad Stone hanging off the back of a New York garbage truck, “never more free than when her big white ass is flapping in the breeze,” now’s your chance. (Troast killed again here, too.)

Stone crushed even in the night’s more mundane sketches: She was a horrified game-show contestant who wins a tortoise that might live for 190 years, replaced by Punkie Johnson-inspired AI in a Please Don’t Destroy short and an amateur potter who knows her clay creation “never looks dirty because it never looks clean!” Even stuff that shouldn’t have worked — like a reprise of her “Posters” sketch where she plays a sassy Instagram model / unpopular podcaster / OnlyFans temptress — played because of Stone’s absolute commitment to the bit. 

A great host tends to rub off on the rest of the show. Weekend Update was sharper than usual. Even the cold open, usually a wasteland of topical political humor included because the show believes we want to hear its hot take on Republican debates, was a winner. Thank George Santos, the comedy gift who keeps on giving. Yang’s gleeful take on the lying, exiled politician culminated in an over-the-top Elton John parody. 

With proven commodities in Kate McKinnon and Adam Driver coming up, let’s keep this hot hosting streak going into the new year. Stone just gave them the mark to beat. 

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