What makes a great Saturday Night Live host?
As Justice Potter Stewart famously once said about pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
That’s not to say that SNL is like pornography — though both are viewed late at night by millions of teenage boys.
There really is no predicting who’s going to thrive on Saturday Night Live. Yes, it helps to be hilarious and multi-talented, but more important qualities might be fearlessness, spontaneity, and a certain lack of vanity. (And don’t overlook being the Republican frontrunner for president.)
People sometimes scoff at the opening monologue, but that introduction often sets the tone. This is the guest host’s opportunity to shine, and there’s literally no place to hide. Nervous? We’ll notice. Too cool? We’ll take offense. Those six minutes typically reveal where the rest of the show is heading. It’s the rare great show that follows a subpar intro.
So how to identify a great SNL host? For the last four seasons, EW has asked its readers to be Justice Stewart: You know it when you see it. Monday, five episodes into SNL‘s 41st season, EW begins its fifth annual Mr. Saturday Night contest — in which voters determine the best host of the current season. Previous contests have crowned Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, Fallon again, and 2014-15 champ Martin Freeman. It’s hardly an absolute science, but neither is SNL.
Thus far, we’ve enjoyed Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer, Tracy Morgan, Donald Trump, and Elizabeth Banks. Our rules are simple: Who was the best, most memorable host? More specifically, who made you laugh the hardest? Whose episode enjoyed multiple viewings on your DVR? Which host made your coworker and your cool aunt laugh? Which host must be asked back, because they have the promise to be one of the all-time greats?
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 eliminated; the other four will advance to compete against Matthew McConaughey on Nov. 21. Ultimately, we’ll eliminate the less memorable hosts and crown a new Mr. or Mrs. Saturday Night next May. Watch and vote below.
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