Over its more than 30 years on the air, Saturday Night Live has seen hundreds of actors, singers, athletes and various other performers step into the spotlight as host. Some were hits, some were misses and many just… were. When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson first hosted on March 18, 2000, he set a new standard for other athletes with his exuberant personality and amazing comedic timing. Justin Timberlake’s multiple appearances have audiences branding him an unofficial cast member and Jon Hamm is always received by a roaring applause whenever he pops up.
However, not every host is destined for comedy gold. There are those who try their best, but effort alone does not make for funny. There are also those who might perform well in front of the camera, but their backstage habits overshadow their comedic talents. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching and love ever present in the air, we’re killing the mood by looking at those terrible performers who really don’t deserve an invitation back to the comedy sketch show.
These are the 13 Worst Saturday Night Live Hosts of All Time.
13 Donald Trump – Nov. 7, 2015
As a divisive Republican presidential hopeful with outlandish politics, Donald Trump knows how to grab the media’s attention. After it was announced that he would host, the Latino activist group DeportRacism.com offered $5,000 to anyone who could interrupt him during the live show. It might have had something to do with his proposal to build a giant wall on the Mexican border to keep out immigrants.
Trump’s appearance boosted ratings to its highest in two years, but that didn’t exactly make it a good show. With lackluster sketches and Trump unwilling to set ego aside and really poke fun at himself, we were left with an uninspired episode with very few laughs. Even a surprise appearance by guest heckler Larry David calling him a racist couldn’t save this utterly boring outing.
12 Adrien Brody – May 10, 2003
Adrien Brody garnered tremendous praise for his dramatic acting chops in The Pianist but those talents didn’t exactly translate into comedy gold. In fact, his outing as an SNL host was so bad that he was banned from ever hosting again. The Academy Award winner earned the ire of many when he donned dreadlocks and a fake Jamaican accent to introduce musical guest Sean Paul.
Apparently, he didn’t realize what a terrible decision it was to improvise the controversial introduction without running it by staff. Plus, it didn’t help that Lorne Michaels is notoriously against unscripted sketches. Either way, that moment stands as the only memorable thing from a completely lackluster episode.
11 Lance Armstrong – October 29, 2005
Not every athlete possesses the great charisma and impeccable comedic timing as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Case in point: Lance Armstrong. The once decorated athlete hosted months after announcing his retirement from professional cycling and his outing was pretty forgettable. His appearance in the “Celebrity Ironman” match was funny enough, but the same could not be said for the rest of the episode.
Perhaps they should have brought him back after it was alleged that the world-famous athlete had been using performance-enhancing drugs for most of career. At least they would have had some material to work with.
10 Tom Green – November 18, 2000
Tom Green’s brand of humor is very different from what you’d see on an SNL sketch. The Canadian shot to mainstream fame in 1999 when his self-titled show was picked up by MTV. Segments included him pretending to hump a dead moose, painting a lesbian sex scene on his father’s car and sucking a cow’s teat for milk. This low-brow humor translated to awkward and unfunny segments on the beloved comedy sketch show.
Audiences were particularly irked when he promised to marry then fiancée Drew Barrymore by the end of the show. When it finally came to the moment, he ended the gag by saying she got locked in her dressing room. We think everyone watching wished they’d have locked themselves in that dressing room, too.
9 Rudy Giuliani (New York Mayor) – November 22, 1997
When a politician hosts, chances are they will not be funny. Such was the case with Rudy Giuliani who just doesn’t have the comedic acting chops needed to helm such a major gig. It’s not like he wasn’t cooperative... indeed, he seemed very committed to the material he was given. However, that material was very limited given that he was the mayor of New York City at the time. Though he did appear in drag for one sketch, poking fun at his cross-dressing appearance at a press event earlier that year.
Despite a bland outing, he did return on the first episode after September 11, 2001 to deliver an inspiring monologue, surrounded by first responders.
8 Deion Sanders – February 8, 1995
Some athletes just aren’t meant to host. Actually, most athletes should not be stepping into the comedy realm. While a star on the football field, Deion Sanders fell flat during the sketches and audiences just couldn’t get past his limitations as a comedian. This episode also saw his spectacularly awful attempt at rapping, proving that some people should just stay in their lane.
The retired football great learned that lesson well and now appears on television as an analyst for CBS Sports and NFL Network, for which he's much better suited than comedy.
7 Justin Bieber – February 9, 2013
Justin Bieber pulled double duty as both host and musical guest and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during this episode. Cast member Bill Hader called him one of the worst hosts after the singer reportedly turned up backstage with a massive entourage of people. “He had a guy holding a slice of pizza. A guy holding a Diet Coke. You're trying to fight through all these people to get dressed,” he said.
It’s also been alleged that he wasn’t a fan of Kate McKinnon’s impression of him. Chill out, dude. Hopefully, Bieber has a better sense of humor about himself now that he's been the target of a particularly ruthless Comedy Central roast.
6 Katy Perry – December 10, 2011
Katy Perry first appeared as a musical guest before taking the helm in 2011. Because she’s not an actor, she was more of a featured player and did not appear in that many sketches. However, the ones she did pop up in were either hit or miss. It seems that comedy isn't her strong point, even after being married to comedian Russell Brand for several years.
Her spot on impression of Florence Welch for a dog commercial could be considered a high point. On the other side of that, her lackluster Kate Middleton in a sketch involving Queen Elizabeth was pretty brutal. She tried her damnedest but we can all agree it’s best that she stick to singing.
5 Lindsay Lohan – March 3, 2012
Lindsay Lohan actually hosted the show three times before this and was pretty charming. However, on this occasion, she was relegated to a lesser role. She appeared in a limited number of sketches and, for the most part, acted as more of a background extra. Even worse, it was obvious that she was reading from a cue card and she wasn’t exactly Captain Energy.
At least she was able to poke fun at herself in the opening monologue, but it's possible she's not exactly happy about being totally washed-up at this point in her career.
4 Paris Hilton – February 5, 2005
Paris Hilton is not an actor so she already had one strike against her. The heiress was better known for her partying than her comedic talents and completely fizzled during every sketch that she appeared in. To make matters worse, her awful backstage behavior led Tina Fey to refer to her as “a piece of s***” who was “proud of how dumb she was.”
She reportedly pushed to make fun of the people she hated, including Jessica Simpson. To be fair, none of this is really surprising. We already saw this side of her during her time on The Simple Life.
3 Milton Berle – April 14, 1979
Milton Berle’s run as host is what nightmares are made of. The comedian ignored instructions from the director and stuck with his own, outdated gags which included spit-takes and ad-libbed jokes. Even worse, he closed the show with an abysmal performance of “September Song” and guaranteed a standing ovation thanks to his friends and family who were in the audience.
His efforts to upstage the cast rubbed everyone the wrong way and it’s rumored he even gave instructions to some of the stage crew and reportedly exposed himself to a writer. Due to his massive ego and unwillingness to cooperate with the staff, and probably because of that improvised song, he was banned from ever hosting again.
2 Steven Seagal – April 20, 1991
Steven Seagal isn’t exactly a charismatic actor. The action movie star and martial arts enthusiast has been repeatedly parodied for his unbelievable delivery. However, it’s his backstage antics that made him one of the worst hosts of the bunch. During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live, former cast member David Spade told Andy Cohen that he was particularly difficult to work with. “He was a little tough. He was actually tough and he was tough to work with. It was hard. He did not want to play along.”
In addition to not cooperating with the cast, Seagal also pitched horrible sketch ideas, including one where a therapist tries to have sex with a patient who had been raped. Hilarious. Lorne Michaels even deemed him the worst on air when Nicolas Cage deemed himself as such. Michaels corrected him by saying, “That would be Steven Seagal.” He hasn’t been invited back since but was parodied by various cast members on numerous occasions.
1 Chevy Chase – Various Dates
What makes Chevy Chase a terrible host has more to do with his backstage antics than anything he’s ever done on camera. The former SNL cast member is notoriously difficult to work with and he was especially brutal whenever he returned to his old stomping grounds. Reports say he was verbally abusive to the staff and exchanged blows with Bill Murray, who had replaced him in the cast, when he hosted in season 3.
During rehearsal for the February 15, 1997 episode, Chase supposedly slapped Cheri Oteri in the back of the head as a “joke,” resulting in Will Ferrell complaining to Lorne Michaels about his behavior. He was actually banned from hosting that year but returned on several occasions, including a 2013 episode with host Justin Timberlake.
Did we leave anyone out? Did we get the order wrong? Let us know in the comments!
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