The track record for athletes hosting Saturday Night Live is not excellent. Lorne Michaels has said that jocks make ideal hosts because they’re so accustomed to a live audience, but he’s just doing his job. The fact is, most athletes are not funny — maybe for the same reason that most supermodels aren’t: They don’t need to be. Groupies and fawning hanger-ons laugh enthusiastically no matter how lame the joke.
So give credit to Eli Manning, who went to great lengths on Saturday night to convey that he gets the joke about himself: Super Bowls do not equal electrifying charisma. Last week, I wrote that he seems like a guy who arrived in New York by bus, and there he was on Saturday night suggesting tourists check out Cats and the Olive Garden. He was more than just a good sport who was willing to laugh at himself, he seemingly said yes to everything, appearing in numerous sketches.
Eli’s performance will immediately be compared to his brother’s 2007 show. But right now, he’s in the somewhat unfair situation of being compared against four real pros to determine this season’s best SNL host. Jimmy Fallon continues to lead with 36.0 percent of the vote — BUT CAN HE THROW A SPIRAL! Daniel Radcliffe got another big bump, nearly doubling his support to 30.6 percent. Melissa McCarthy was up a few ticks, with 23.4 percent, and Sofia Vergara stayed in the game with 7.6 percent. Josh Brolin did not make much of an impression in the few sketches he appeared in, bowing out with just 2.5 percent of the vote.
Below, I’ve embedded one clip for each of the five remaining hosts, as reminders of their recent performances. How do you possibly grade them against each other, ignoring guest cameos — Sacha Baron Cohen! — and fluctuating writing? My rule of thumb: “Do I want to see them come back and host again next season?” At the very least, try to be objective and don’t reward or penalize a host for their latest movie or the fact that you root for the Eagles. It’s all about Saturday night. Vote below, and the four top vote getters will advance to compete against all-timer Will Ferrell on May 12. Ultimately, we’ll crown the Saturday Night Liveliest host at the end of the season. Watch and vote below.