Is Chris Rock the season's best 'SNL' host?
With Saturday Night Live celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, we’ve already spent a lot of time reflecting on the show’s biggest all-time stars and funniest sketches. But fairly or unfairly, the success of every Saturday Night Live episode depends not on the show’s ensemble, but on a given episode’s celebrity host—who’s put through a live-comedy wringer that can be as exhilarating and unforgiving as Indiana Jones’ race through the booby-trapped South American temple in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Obviously, it’s the cast and the writers’ responsibility to put the host in position to thrive. With one false move, he or she can get crushed by a bad joke or lifeless reading—the SNL equivalent of a giant stampeding boulder.
Still, not all hosts are created equal. There’s a reason there’s both a Five-Timer’s Club—Alec Baldwin! Justin Timberlake! Steve Martin!—and a less-tony One-Timer’s Club. (Shall we call the latter the Louise Lasser Club? Or does Milton Berle deserve that infamy?) Today, five episodes into SNL‘s 40th season, EW begins its fourth annual Mr. Saturday Night contest—in which voters determine the best host of the current season. Previous seasons have crowned Jimmy Fallon, Timberlake, and Fallon again, which I think both validates the current voting process and invites us to consider some fresh blood.
Thus far, we’ve enjoyed Chris Pratt, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader, Jim Carrey, and, most recently, Chris Rock. Our rules are simple: Who was the best, most memorable host? More specifically, who would you hope gets invited back? Whose hilarious episode enjoyed multiple viewings on your DVR? Whose show had your boss, your mom, and your roommate all still giggling on Monday morning?
Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip from each of the five hosts, just as a small taste of their recent performances. You’re not voting on this one sketch alone; be sure to consider the entire episode. Vote, and the host with the least support will be sent packing; the other four will advance to compete against Woody Harrelson on Nov. 15. Ultimately, we’ll eliminate the less memorable hosts and crown a new Mr. or Mrs. Saturday Night next May. Watch and vote below.