Early during this season of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin interrupted first-time host Edward Norton to share some pointers on how to host the legendary show, a late-night institution in its 39th season. “It’s a three-wheeled bus careening towards a blown-out bridge,” he said, describing the delirious mayhem that can either terrify or thrill a novice. It’s not easy in the slightest, and honor to those who make it look so.
For the third straight year, Entertainment Weekly has asked its online readers to vote for the best Saturday Night Live host each week. And every week, we eliminated one guest host, until we were left with six of the season’s finest. Last year’s Mr. Saturday Night Justin Timberlake didn’t return this past season to defend his crown. Instead, he lent his unofficial support to BFF and fellow Mr. Saturday Night Jimmy Fallon as his musical guest and all-around secret weapon. (He even sent Fallon’s rival, his old digital-short pal Andy Samberg, a very public show of non-support.) But this final vote promises to be extremely close, with only six percentage points separating the last week’s top-3 vote-getters: Fallon, Josh Hutcherson, and Anna Kendrick. To that mix, add Samberg, who is going to be fresh in everyone’s minds, and Tina Fey, an all-timer who was granted a second chance. Hoping to make up ground is first-timer Andrew Garfield. While Timberlake won last year with nearly 50 percent of the vote, it’s entirely possible that this year’s winner takes the prize with under 30 percent.
Before you complain that Kerry Washington or your other favorite host isn’t on the ballot, let me just remind everyone that EW.com readers eliminated 15 other guests, until we were left with our final six. No doubt Samberg profited from going last — and automatically advanced to the final — but in previous years, voters haven’t been swayed by the glare of the most recent performance. You can question the format, but it’s tough to argue with the results. In our first two years, voters chose Fallon and Timberlake, two all-stars in their SNL hosting primes. It will be interesting to see who voters turn to next, and if any of the other five finalists can prevent Fallon from becoming a two-time winner.
You’ve earned the right to select exactly who you want, and I thank you all for taking this fun process so seriously during the last television season. But ask yourself three questions before you cast your vote:
1. Which host’s sketches were you still watching days or weeks after the episode originally aired?
2. Which host could join the cast tomorrow and hold his or her own, week-in and week-out?
3. Which host do you most want to see on Saturday Night Live again?
Scroll below to see the tale of the tape for all six finalists, and cast your vote for a Mr. or Mrs. Saturday Night we can all be proud of.
Date of episode: Sept. 28, 2013
Number of times she’s hosted: 4
On the show to promote…: Saturday Night Live
Musical guest: Arcade Fire
TV ratings: 4.7/12
Special guests: Aaron Paul
EW Odds: 5/1. Fey got the ball rolling with last fall’s season premiere, and was an early contender in the contest. But voter fatigue seemingly took hold, a danger with hosting so early in the season. But just like season-premiere host Seth MacFarlane last year, Fey was rescued by the voters in the second-chance poll and could make some noise in the final tally. Might she become the first Ms. Saturday Night?
Date of episode: Nov. 23, 2013
Number of times he’s hosted: 1
On the show to promote…: Catching Fire
Musical guest: HAIM
TV ratings: 4.1/10
Special guests: None.
EW Odds: 8/1. Hutcherson has been the Little Engine That Could this season, with an enthusiastic voting bloc that refused to let him slip off the leaderboard. If Fallon, Samberg, and Fey split the SNL alum vote, Hutcherson could take the prize.
Date of episode: Dec. 21, 2013
Number of times he’s hosted: 2
On the show to promote…: Christmas, the new Tonight Show
Musical guest: Justin Timberlake
TV ratings: 6.3/16
Special guests: Paul McCartney, Madonna, Barry Gibb, Michael Bloomberg
EW Odds: 5/2. The inaugural Mr. Saturday Night in 2012, Fallon is the current frontrunner in the polls, and he has to be considered the favorite, even though voters could subtract points for sharing the spotlight with Timberlake, McCartney, et al.
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