5 Hosts That Hated Their Time on ‘Saturday Night Live’
Patrick Stewart’s memoir, Making It So, came out in October, regaling readers with tales from his days on the stage, Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the X-Men franchise. One surprising tidbit? He had a lousy time hosting Saturday Night Live in 1994. You often hear about Steven Seagal, Milton Berle and Justin Bieber — hosts that are considered the worst in the eyes of SNL cast members, but what about the other way around? Which hosts, like Stewart, had a miserable time?
Here are five celebrities who hated their time on SNL…
Here’s an excerpt from that memoir that says it all:
“This should have been one of my crowning achievements, as it is for many of the actors, comics and athletes who get to host the show,” wrote Stewart. “But I wasn’t as loose then as I am now, and I found the whole experience incredibly stressful. My opening monologue was one of the more awful ones in the history of the show, full of lame Star Trek jokes that I failed to land, and I just didn’t connect with SNL’s cast, as talented as they were.”
In the PBS special Betty White: First Lady of Television, the beloved comic’s agent, Jeff Witjas revealed that the 88-year-old battled stage fright when she hosted. According to Witjas, White rehearsed “vigorously all week,” but on Thursday gave him a look he’s “never seen before.” White’s words to Witjas: “Never again.”
“Maybe I pushed her a little too far and a little too much, because I was pushing her out of her comfort zone,” he says. But after that moment of panic, “she went right back into the regular Betty White.”
In Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, she tells the story of asking host Giamatti if he was having fun. His response: “This is a fucking nightmare!”
Here’s a guy who used to be the show’s head writer, for Aykroyd’s sake. But when Meyers returned to host a few years after leaving SNL, he got a rude awakening. “If you asked me what it was like to host, I would tell you today — and I worked there longer than almost anybody — I was like ‘No one tells you anything,’” he told Howard Stern. “Like, even I, who had worked there, couldn't believe how it works. And I retroactively felt so guilty about how I had treated hosts for my time there. And let me make it clear, I was always very polite to hosts. I always wanted them to score. If they won, I feel like we won. But a host sometimes would say to me, ‘I don’t understand what I’m doing in this sketch.’ And in my head what I wanted to say is ‘Just fucking do it.’”
“Then when I hosted,” Meyers confessed, “there were a few times where I realized what I was thinking was ‘I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do in this sketch.’”
Shatner didn’t arrive for show week until Wednesday, and as he told the Television Academy Foundation, preparation for Saturday wasn’t as far along as he’d hoped. “There’s some people that come in with a napkin and they’ve written some notes on the napkin. ‘I got this idea… No, that’s not going to work. What was that thing we did two years ago? No, that’s not going to work.’”
Per Shatner’s telling, the writers came back on Thursday with new ideas, but the host was rattled. “Now it’s Thursday, and I’m saying, ‘We are going on the air on Saturday right and there’s nothing written!’” he complained. The writers engaged in a game of “That might be funny” and “that’s not funny” before heading off to rework their sketch concepts with a “See you on Friday.”
“And I’m thinking, ‘It’s Friday. And what comes after Friday? Saturday, that's tomorrow and we haven’t really done anything.’”
“It’s a really weird show,” he concluded.