While we have all the confidence in the world that Jane Lynch will do a stellar job hosting the Emmys this Sunday, there’s no question that the Glee star has some tough acts to follow. Just last year, Jimmy Fallon knocked it out of the park early with his Springsteen-inspired, cameo-heavy (Jon Hamm! Betty White!… Kate Gosselin?) musical number, while Neil Patrick Harris — who had his own musical number — did what he does best in 2009, emceeing the evening with his usual poise and charm. (Just as he did the Tonys!)
But were they the best hosts ever? Emmy purists will argue that no one can hold a candle to legends like Johnny Carson (who hosted from 1971 through 1974). And in recent history, it’s hard not to immediately recall Ellen DeGeneres, who handled the first post-9/11 ceremony with grace, compassion, and humor at a time when people desperately needed it. Of course, her follow-up hosting gig in 2005 was pretty memorable, too. After all, remember her Bjork-inspired swan dress? (See above, if somehow you didn’t.) Watch some of her highlights below:
My personal vote, however, goes to the pre-late-night-war-debacle Conan O’Brien and his 2006 gig. (He also hosted in 2002.) O’Brien fine-tuned his goofy wit for a mainstream audience and opened the door for new fans of his mania during the 2007-2008 writer’s strike. The opening montage in which he found himself in scenarios of all the nominated shows (and Lost!) could rival Billy Crystal’s Oscar openers. No, Conan isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but after watching this its hard not to be on Team Coco:
It will be interesting to see how Lynch fares in the pantheon of prestigious Emmy hosts. (So long as she doesn’t head into Bryant Gumbel or ridiculously unnecessary assembling of reality hosts or no-host-at-all territory, she should be just fine.) But I’m curious, who would you dub the best host of all-time? Was it their opening monologue that won you over or their ability to keep the show moving a fast pace without awkwardness? Can anyone top Fallon’s musical number from last year? (Video below.) Share in the comments section below!