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15 Teenagers Who Hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’

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15 Teenagers Who Hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’

For an adult late-night show, Saturday Night Live sure has plenty of kids roaming the halls. 

A handful of cast members — including Eddie Murphy, Pete Davidson, Robert Downey Jr. and 17-year-old Anthony Michael Hall — were hired for the show before they could legally buy a beer. But that’s nothing. Over the years, Lorne Michaels has tabbed 15 teens to host the show, and they aren’t even the show’s youngest hosts. That would be Macauley Culkin at age 11 and the impossibly young Drew Barrymore, only 7 when she ran SNL for a night back in 1982.

Here are the 15 teens who have hosted so far, with apologies to 20-year-old hosts who just missed the cut: Kirsten Dunst, Jenna Ortega, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Shia LaBeouf…

Fred Savage, 13

SNL superfan Savage showed off his inner Dana Carvey, pulling off an impressive mini-Church Lady. The Wonder Years star had fun mocking that show’s adult voiceover narration during his monologue, in which the barely pubescent star showed off a thicket of chest hair. He later told Drew Barrymore that he wasn’t nervous, mainly because being a child star had made him immune to those kinds of jitters.

Jodie Foster, 14

Foster hosted in Season Two, making her the youngest ever until Barrymore came along five years later. She teamed with Dan Aykroyd in a fast-pitched commercial for Puberty Helper, a new product that helps teens avoid the heartbreak of straight hair, curly hair, pimples, blackheads, zits, skin eruptions, nerdy clothes your mother made you buy, physical awkwardness, bra straps showing, safety pins in your bra strap showing, too pointy elbows, slept on your rollers, blushing, retainers, gum on your skirt, not having pierced ears when everybody else has them, gangliness and… Well, you get the idea.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner, 16

It’s hard to find clips from Warner’s show, filmed while he was starring as Theo on The Cosby Show. But it was a natural for SNL to do a parody titled The Crosby Show since affable crooner Bing Crosby had been in the news for being, ahem, a terrible dad. That sketch isn’t included in the Peacock version of the episode — did the estate’s lawyers give NBC a call? 

Lindsay Lohan, 17, 18 and 19

Lohan is the only performer in history who hosted SNL three times as a teen, when she was 17, 18 and 19 years old. She also gets the honor of being only 17 when the show built an entire sketch around her low-cut Hogwarts costume. Jimmy Fallon, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, Horatio Sanz and Chris Parnell all entered the scene at some point to ogle Lohan’s barely concealed Hufflepuffs. As you’ll see, this becomes a running theme with teen female hosts.

Taylor Lautner, 17

Not one of the show’s all-time best hosts, but understandable when the kid should be starring in his school play. As Lautner points out, when SNL started, he was negative-18. 

The Olsen Twins, 17

Just two shows after 17-year-old Lohan hosted, Lorne Michaels decided to go back to the popular-teen-star well. Didn’t think it could get worse than Lohan’s Harry Potter sketch? During the goodnights, Mary-Kate (or was it Ashley?) shouted, “Remember — we’re legal in four weeks!” And the cast cheers! 2004 was a different time, man.

Miley Cyrus, 18

Three-time host Cyrus just missed being a double-dip teen host — she was 20 her second time around. All that Disney Channel training paid off as Cyrus proved to be a funny sketch comedian, especially in sketches about all that Disney Channel training. And if it felt like Cyrus was an old hand at SNL by this point, it was probably because Vanessa Bayer had been impersonating her for years. 

Britney Spears, 18

Another teen, another boob joke. In Britney’s first-ever monologue, she denies having breast implants despite the front of her dress moving left, right, up and down of its own accord. Spears also gets the low-cut costume treatment in this Boston Teens sketch, and don’t think Sully doesn’t notice. “Where did you get that dress? Ye Olde House of Juggery?” Sensing a pattern here, folks?

Claire Danes, 18

In the live version of the show (this clip shows the dress rehearsal), Danes takes questions from audience members. Noting that SNL is five years older than she is, Danes was supposed to announce that she was born during the Tim Kazurinsky years, according to the One SNL A Day Project. But she mangled Kazurinsky’s name during the live show, confessing that she had no idea who he was. Unless you’re an SNL fan of a certain age, I’m betting you don’t either. 

Justin Bieber, 18

Worst host of all time? Bill Hader nominates the Biebs. “He just was in a bad place,” Hader told Andy Cohen. “Maybe he’s in a better place, but then he was in a very… It was rough.” While most guest hosts are on their best behavior, Hader says, “Bieber just seemed like, exhausted or just at the end of a rope.”

Sara Gilbert, 18

No one had talked about the 1994 Sara Gilbert episode in years, a mostly tepid affair as the show transitioned from the Myers/Carvey era into its Farley/Sandler phase. But Mayim Bialek reminded us with her Variety essay about how hurtful Gilbert’s Blossom parody was. “No one else on the show was parodied for their features. In MAD Magazine, everyone is caricatured, but in this rendition of parody, it was just me that was singled out,” Bialek wrote. “More specifically, it was my nose.” 

You can’t point fingers at Gilbert, whose Six impression was pretty fun. But the show’s insistence on slapping a prosthetic schnoz on Melanie Hutsell is hard to defend.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, 19

Chris Kattan’s Antonio Banderas comes thisclose to fondling Hewitt’s breasts in this sketch about… Banderas trying to fondle Hewitt’s breasts. “I did not notice that you brought your friends,” he says in a Spanish accent, hands nearly groping her chest. “Who are your friends, and what is their names?” When Hewitt understandably puts her hands over her sweater to cover up, Kattan pulls them back. “Don’t close their eyes. They are tucked in, sleeping, like two friendly, boobily things. You know, the kind you hang like ornaments from a Christmas tree. Very sexy.” Pepé Le Pew had more subtle seduction moves.

Christina Ricci, 19

Despite years of experience as a child actor, Ricci was nervous about performing in a live show — so much so that she downed two bottles of champagne to calm her nerves, according to SNL writer Seth Rudestky. That might explain why Ricci accidentally punched Ana Gasteyer in the face during this Sally Jessy Raphael sketch. As Rudestky explains, Ricci stopped short in dress rehearsal, and the punch looked fake. (This clip appears to be from that rehearsal — see the unrealistic punch at about 2:25.) Ricci tried to throw a more believable haymaker in the live show and accidentally connected. Gasteyer confirmed both the champagne and the fact that Ricci “punched me so hard in the nose” during a SiriusXM interview.

Taylor Swift, 19

Nobody gave 19-year-old Taylor Swift an SNL manual when she came in to host the show, Seth Meyers told Howard Stern. “And yet she came to us and said, ‘I wrote a song for the opening monologue, can I play it for you?’ And so we brought Taylor into Lorne’s office, and she sings this song, which is not only a beautiful song by a beautiful singer, it’s a perfect SNL monologue fully formed. I’ve never had a moment like that where someone brings you a gift-wrapped present, and it’s exactly what you needed it to be.”

Julia Stiles, 19

We’re back in the era of SNL when trying to get busy with the young female host almost became a trope. A bunch of cast members did it with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and this time it’s Tracy Morgan’s turn to be the creep. Since Stiles made out with a Black guy in her movie Save the Last Dance, wouldn’t she want to have Tracy come back to her place after the show? Stiles gives a polite no, which of course Morgan ignores with a “once you go Black, you never go back.” 

Combine married Morgan hitting on a 19-year-old and Stiles calling out his “jungle fever” pleas as a horrible stereotype, and you get a monologue that hits the cringe daily double. 

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