Saturday Night Live has been making people laugh for over 40 years and in that time it’s had a lot of hosts. The show’s very first host was comedian George Carlin and from there, a rich comedy tradition was born. Throughout the years, comedians, actors, sports stars, and politicians have all hosted the show, adding new layers to what it means to be a SNL host.
Naturally, with so many hosts that have tried their hand, there have been some that just weren’t cut out for live sketch TV. Whether they are reading excessively from cue cards or just get too drunk to go on, there’s a long line of incompetent SNL hosts. But then there are the all-stars. The upper echelon of hosts that kill it every damn time. Some of them have hosted so much they may as well be cast members, and some get it so right their very first time. Keep reading for the best hosts in SNL history!
17. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock is amazing in every way so obviously he makes a perfect SNL host. The genial actor is a member of the “Five-Timers Club” a.k.a anyone who has hosted the show 5+ times, a milestone he hit last May. His hosting gigs have been full of classic skits, like “The Rock Obama” — an angry, roided-out version of the mild manner President. Or the badass live-action Bambi — complete with guns! He’s always down for sketches that may be deemed controversial or weird, making him an ideal host for the writers to flex their skills with. Here’s to hoping he gets hosting gig number 6 this season!
16. Buck Henry
Henry has the honor of not only being in the Five-Timers Club but also the Ten-Timers Club, hosting ten times over four years. Henry is the type of iconic host that brings his recurring characters to life. When you have as many well-known characters as some of the cast members, you know you’re doing something right.
He was involved in “The Nerds” sketches as Bill Murray’s dad and was most well-known for his creepy character Uncle Roy. He’ll also go down in SNL history as being injured by John Belushi’s katana in a live “Samurai” sketch, which led to the cast wearing band-aids on their head for the rest of the show.
15. Jon Hamm
After his stoic years on Mad Men, his first appearance on SNL was met with trepidation. Could this guy even be funny? Um, yes, yes he could. Hamm is one of those actors who is simultaneously great at drama and comedy, which just isn’t even fair to the rest of us. In his three hosting gigs and numerous guest cameos, he’s gone all in to make the show great. A host who isn’t afraid to get his feet wet is the best kind of host. His characters have ranged from a sex offender to a sexy saxophonist named Sergio. He brings charm and panache to every hosting stint, making him an all-time great.
14. Melissa McCarthy
McCarthy has hit the five-time hosting landmark, with each performance crazier than the last. She basically brings her boisterous, unrefined movie characters to the small screen but we aren’t complaining. Her penchant for physical comedy makes everything she does extra hilarious. Recently, her SNL legacy has been tied to her ridiculous — yet totally accurate — portrayal of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
13. Chance the Rapper
Just after Chance The Rapper hosted SNL for the first time he was already one of the best hosts of all time. That’s how good it was. His first time at bat was a home run, and you can tell this guy is going to be hosting a lot going forward. His best sketch? An R&B; ballad devoted to getting President Barack Obama to come back. We want you to come back Chance, and host as much as possible!
12. Tina Fey
Some of the best SNL hosts are former cast members. Such is the case with the ever-hilarious Tina Fey. She was a cast member and head writer for the show for years. She’s come back and hosted five times since she left the show and her appearances prove it helps to know how the show ticks. She has been nominated for and won numerous Emmy’s for guest starring on the series, most notably for portraying former Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. We’ll take our Tina any way we can get her, and that definitely means more hosting gigs please.
11. Candice Bergen
Bergen was the first woman to ever host the show during SNL‘s inaugural season. And six months later, she was the first host to return and do it all again. As one of the first hosts, she’s a relic of a bygone era of comedy. She could play it hilariously straight or bounce off the wall making people laugh. It’s also notable that her first hosting gig was the first time the show looked like what we know it as today after working out the kinks for a few episodes. This funny lady is part of SNL history for life.
10. Miley Cyrus
It’s always tricky when you have a host that’s so relevant in the public eye. Luckily, Miley has no issue lambasting her image on the show, which makes her great at hosting. She never shies away from making fun of herself to hilarious results. She’s also acted as host and musical guest in one episode, which is pretty crazy to pull off. Her crazy humor is always refreshing when she comes to host and it makes her a fan fave.
9. Ryan Gosling
How can someone so handsome be so good at acting and so funny?! It just doesn’t seem possible. But it is. In his two hosting gigs, he’s gone above and beyond — making his episodes as funny as can be. Who can forget Gosling’s overenthusiastic Santa fan in last years Christmas ep? He and his girl got a little too pumped that Santa might be at their neighbor’s party and it was incredible. He’s also known for “breaking” i.e. laughing sketches because he just can’t handle the funny. As much as show creator Lorne Michaels hates it, we find it endearing AF.
8. Jimmy Fallon
Speaking of people breaking in sketches, former cast member Jimmy Fallon is the KING of trying not to laugh during funny moments on air. He usually fails. But it’s hilarious nonetheless watching him crack up just as much as we are at home. He’s hosted the Christmas episode a couple times now and they’ve become some of the funniest in the show’s history. Who can forget when him and Justin Timberlake essentially co-hosted one of the funniest episodes in the last ten years in 2013?! Not me, since I still watch that episode to this day. Sorry not sorry.
7. Christopher Walken
This seven-time host has a “Best of” DVD dedicated to his best sketches so that’s how you know he’s one of the greats. He’s perhaps most well-known for his involvement in the “Cowbell” sketch as a man who just needed more cowbell, dammit! He’s also played “The Continental” multiple times, a pervy dude who thinks he’s a ladies man — i.e. all men. Walken’s such a good host he could be part of the cast if he wanted. He sadly hasn’t hosted since 2008, so here’s to hoping he comes back soon.
You’d think a rapper hosting the show wouldn’t want to get too silly — they’ve got a rep to protect after all. But when it comes to Drake that’s dead wrong. He’s so game for everything that you’d think he’d been doing this his whole life. Whether it be playing an awkward dad or singing emotional rap songs about his friends not saying hi to him, it’s always beyond hilarious. He’s become one of those reliable hosts where you know if he’s the guest, it’s going to be a can’t-miss episode. Fingers crossed he’ll be stopping by this season!
5. Tom Hanks
With nine hosting gigs under his belt, Hanks is an old pro by now. Being a comedian himself, he always brings ideas to the table and makes his episodes extra funny. He most recently gained notoriety for his David S. Pumpkins character on last year’s Halloween episode. Since that airing, it’s become such a phenomenon that the character got its own animated special. That’s how influential Tom Hanks is when he hosts SNL.
4. John Goodman
Another one of those hosts that’s there so often he may as well be in the cast, with thirteen hosting stints to his name and many guest appearances, Goodman is one of the mainstays of the show. It’s well known that Goodman’s always waiting in the wings if a host drops out or they just can’t get someone. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s hilarious! His hit sitcom Roseanne returns for a revival early next year so let’s hope his 14th time hosting comes with it.
3. Justin Timberlake
Timberlake is a Five-Timer, but that definitely isn’t enough for this amazing host. His episodes are absolute CLASSICS. No modern host has been as popular on the show as the pop crooner is. His frequent collaborations with Jimmy Fallon have made for endlessly quotable sketches like “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” and “Celebrity Family Feud.” He’s so influential that the last time he was a musical guest, he basically ended up co-hosting with Fallon, bringing in monster ratings for the show. He sings, he dances, and he puts his dick in a box. What more do you need in a host?
2. Steve Martin
This holiday season, remember Steve Martin’s immortal Christmas wish: revenge on all his enemies. They should die like pigs in hell! Martin is an immortal part of the shows DNA at this point. He has fifteen hosting stints, endless cameos, and some of the most iconic sketches of all time. He’s been a “wild and crazy guy” and one of the “Three Amigos,” cementing himself in film history with the latter. The only problem with his hosting? That he was able to do it so many times and they didn’t just make him a cast member!
1. Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin has the distinct honor of having hosted more than anyone else at a whopping 17 times. He’s hosted so many times and been so active on the show that nowadays, he’s basically a cast member. I mean, he does appear every episode as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. But even before that he already had iconic characters. Schweddy Balls, anyone? It’s definitely awesome to see him on our TV screens every week, that’s for sure, even if it does remind us of someone else who’s not so funny!