This past Saturday’s episode of SNL was indisputably a season highlight. But here’s a question: How much of the credit for that belongs solely to host Justin Timberlake?
Timberlake certainly seems to have a Midas effect whenever he drops by SNL. His very presence energizes the entire show, even the segments in which he doesn’t appear. Take, for example, this week’s Stefon appearance, which is the funniest the character’s been in months.
That said, an enormous number of “surprise” cameos also buoyed Timberlake’s latest Saturday Night Live turn — and when the euphoria induced by Steve Martin, Andy Samberg, Jay-Z, et al wore off, we were left with an episode that lagged mightily after Weekend Update (“The Adventures of Sober Caligula”? ), despite Timberlake’s best efforts. Arguably, then, Timberlake himself doesn’t necessarily deserve full marks for the show’s success. (I’m not necessarily making that argument; I’m just saying one could.)
Still, Timberlake shouldn’t have much trouble shooting to the top of this week’s Host Poll — especially since last week’s results prove that none of our current Mr./Ms. Saturday Night contenders has a decisive lead. Kevin Hart eked out a narrow victory over Christoph Waltz, earning just 4 points more of the vote than the Oscar winner. With a 17 percent third place finish, Martin Short — who also made a memorable cameo during Timberlake’s episode — is still very much in the game. Season-premiere host Seth MacFarlane managed to hold onto his spot in the top four by the skin of his shiny, shiny teeth — leaving Jennifer Lawrence out in the cold. Something tells me she’s going to be just fine.
Remember, everyone: we’re trying to recognize the best SNL host, according to whatever subjective criteria one uses to determine this sort of thing. Are you still laughing at one of their sketches today? Do you want to see them back on the show next season? Just some things to consider.
Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip for each of the five hosts currently in the race. After the vote, the host with the least support will be eliminated, and the other four will advance to compete against Melissa McCarthy — last year’s Best Host runner-up — on April 6. Ultimately, we’ll eliminate the less memorable hosts and crown a new Mr. or Ms. Saturday Night. Watch the clips, refresh your memories, and vote below.