Top 20 Worst SNL Hosts of All Time
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 20 worst “Saturday Night Live” hosts.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most awkward, unprofessional or just plain unfunny hosts in SNL history.
Which SNL host did you think was the worst? Let us know in the comments!
#20: Ronda Rousey
UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey fought tooth and nail for laughs during her hosting stint in January 2016, but unfortunately, she isn’t as fast in front of a camera as she is in the ring. To be honest, “hosting” might not even be the right word for it. While she didn’t make an ass of herself, she barely appeared in the live sketches, and when she did, her acting was wooden and she didn’t really add anything. We can clearly see you looking at the cue cards, Ronda! Throw in a bland performance by Selena Gomez, and you had one of the worst episodes of season 41.
#19: Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa may be a stellar musician, but a suitable host he is not. Zappa hosted way back in October of 1978, and he made a total fool of both himself and the show. While we understand that “SNL” is meant to be funny, there is still an expected level of professionalism, and Zappa did not adhere to it. He constantly broke the fourth wall and even addressed the cue cards, which resulted in his ban from the show. Zappa came across as an extremely uncomfortable and risky presence that could undermine the show at any moment, and the crew allegedly hated him for it.
#18: Charles Grodin
The infamous Charles Grodin episode is a thing of “Saturday Night Live” legend. Grodin hosted took up hosting duties in October 1977, but awkwardly stumbled through his lines, improvised large swaths of content, and derailed sketches due to being blissfully unprepared for the show. Some say he missed rehearsals and bungled the night, and some say it was an Andy Kaufman-esque bit of meta humor that flew over everyone’s heads. It was a disaster either way, and few people found him funny or enjoyable. Kind of like Andy Kaufman himself a lot of the time.
#17: Milton Berle
Mentioning the Milton Berle episode to a cast member of the 1979 season may just give them unwanted flashbacks. Berle was allegedly a massive pain both in front of the camera and backstage. He had no qualms with completely taking over the show and tended to both hog the camera and upstage his fellow cast members. He also insisted on ad-libbing, made outdated jokes, including doing spit-takes. He then ended the show with a mushy performance of September Song and a pre-planned standing ovation, much to the anger of Lorne Michaels. In short, everyone involved seemingly hated him, and he was never invited back.
#16: MC Hammer
By the time MC Hammer hosted SNL on December 7, 1991, he was already dancing his way out of the zeitgeist. “U Can’t Touch This” was well behind him, and while “2 Legit 2 Quit” proved relatively successful, it wasn’t the Earth-shattering single that the former was. As a result, this episode reeked of a celebrity desperately trying to hold on to relevancy, especially when you consider that he was the musical guest as well. Unfortunately, he proved a bad host due to some wooden acting and making the odd decision to refer to himself in the third person. While he may be 2 legit 2 quit, he wasn’t 2 legit 2 fail.
#15: January Jones
January Jones is often considered to be one of the weakest links of the otherwise stellar cast of “Mad Men,” but you could argue that Betty Draper is meant to be rather emotionless and boring. However, even January’s most diehard fans had trouble defending her “SNL” hosting gig. She carried the show with the same bland personality. And while that may work for Betty, it doesn’t work for live comedy. If her rather uninspired live delivery wasn’t bad enough, she also stumbled over lines and showed audible confusion regarding the cameras. Critics thought she sucked the energy out of the show, earning her place in history as one of “SNL’s” most awkward personalities.
#14: Al Sharpton
Who in the right mind thought that a civic rights activist and Baptist minister would make for a good “Saturday Night Live” host? Sharpton hosted the show while running for President on December 6, 2003, but just because someone is a Presidential candidate doesn’t mean they’re good at comedy. Politicians and Baptist ministers do not often make for good actors. As everyone predicted, it was generally a disaster, as Sharpton often looked bored and uncomfortable, and it came across as little more than a transparent campaign ad. His recent misspelling of “respect” was funnier than anything he did on “Saturday Night Live.”
#13: Adrien Brody
Adrien Brody is a terrific case in proving that drama and live comedy require completely different talents. While Brody may be an acclaimed, Academy Award-winning actor, he is easily one of “Saturday Night Live’s” worst and most awkward hosts. While he wasn’t particularly funny throughout the whole show, it was his introduction of musical guest Sean Paul that really angered people. Brody allegedly went off-script and introduced Paul while wearing fake dreadlocks and a Jamaican accent, a joke that was not approved or even known about. To make matters worse, it proved to be unfunny and offensive. The joke reportedly got Brody banned from the show and he has since become a part of “SNL” legend.
#12: Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky’s stint on “Saturday Night Live” was oddly reassuring. It reinforced the idea that everyone has flaws, and that even the all-time greats are human. Gretzky is often considered to be the greatest hockey player to ever lace up skates, yet he is certainly not an actor. And that’s putting it mildly. We suppose seeing him play hockey with Wayne and Garth was cool, but that’s the extent of this episode’s quality, wich saw the sports legend noticeably glancing off-camera and delivering his lines and jokes with the enthusiasm of a brick wall. The episode is great as a time capsule, but certainly not as a funny hour of television.
#11: Tom Green
Tom Green is certainly an acquired taste. The crass Green was invited to host back in November 2000 when he was at the height of his popularity, and it went about as poorly as you’d expect from the infamously odd performer. While we suppose the producers knew they were taking a risk when hiring the controversial comedian, it certainly didn’t pay off. Green brought his brand of low-brow, uncomfortable humor to the live sketch show, and the two types of comedy failed to mix. Next to his practiced sketch comedian co-stars, Green’s farcical approach to acting came across as childish and unfunny.
#10: Casey Affleck
If there’s one celebrity primed to host “Saturday Night Live,” it’s the gut-busting, rip-roaring Casey Affleck. In case you can’t tell, we’re being sarcastic. To promote that hilarious movie “Manchester by the Sea,” Casey Affleck hosted the show in December 2016, and…well, it was the same old mumbly and deadpan Casey Affleck you’ve come to expect. While his reserved personality may work for dramatic movie roles, it isn’t a boon in sketch comedy. Besides the obvious standout Dunkin’ Donuts segment, Casey seemed completely out of his element and had little chemistry with the cast. Still, we must give him props for his self-deprecating monologue.
#9: Lindsay Lohan
What makes Lindsay Lohan’s terrible hosting gig from 2012 so outlandish is that she’d already proven that she could do it well. Lohan had hosted “Saturday Night Live” three times going into this gig, so expectations were fairly high, despite the state of her career at the time. What could have been a big win for the actress instead went down as another missed opportunity. She had next to no energy throughout the night, and her line delivery was extremely stilted and boring. To make matters worse, it was clear that she was reading off cue cards. And, like anyone obviously reading from a card, Lohan was emotionless, stiff, and boring.
#8: Andrew Dice Clay
Andrew Dice Clay was a prominent stand-up comedian in the late 80s known for crude and sexist humor. To much fanfare, Clay took up the mantle of SNL host in May 1990, just eight months after he was banned from MTV. Both Nora Dunn and Sinead O’Connor refused to appear out of protest, and some viewers sent in hate mail and threats. But their fears were unwarranted, as Clay was painfully sanitized and blandly self-referential, which made for a dull host and also annoyed the comedian’s established fanbase. Like the failed opening of Capone’s vault, this was a national media event that instantly deflated.
#7: Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton was a bit of a controversial pick, as many people were hesitant regarding her lack of acting or comedic experience. They were right to hesitate. Hilton was not only unfunny and incredibly unprofessional, but she was also allegedly a huge pain behind the scenes as well. Tina Fey told Howard Stern that Hilton took herself way too seriously and was “proud of how dumb she is.” She also told him that Hilton was just generally difficult.. You must be really unprofessional to have the otherwise sweet Tina Fey say something like that about you. Again… her words, not ours.
#6: Louise Lasser
Louise Lasser was plastered all over the magazines of the mid-70s due to her role in the satirical soap opera “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” However, she quickly left the show after exhausting herself and seemingly had a minor breakdown, getting busted for possessing cocaine and crawling around looking for drugs during SNL rehearsals. She was hated by Chevy Chase due to her apparent “solipsism” and constantly tried to back out of her obligations. The show itself was a sloppy and awkward piece of self-deprecating meta humor, and Lorne Michaels refused to have the episode rerun out of embarrassment.
#5: Donald Trump
We’re not adding Trump to this list solely because he’s Trump. People thought he was truly terrible on the show and so he earned the spot. Trump hosted the show twice, once in 2004 and again in 2015 while he was running for president. And while the episode garnered very high ratings, Trump simply couldn’t let go of his ego for an hour and have some fun. The episode seemed far too sterilized and pre-planned, as if the people in his team had vetoed 90% of the material the writers must have surely come up with. Critics also felt Trump made for a dreadful host due to his horrible comedic timing.
#4: Michael Phelps
It’s no secret that athletes kind of suck as comedians, and while Wayne Gretzky was awful, he looks like Jim Carrey next to Michael Phelps. Oh boy, that Michael Phelps episode. He may be the fastest human to ever enter water, but he had the grace of a dump truck in front of the camera. Not only did he have no semblance of comedic timing, but he painfully stumbled through his lines and failed to read his cue cards on numerous occasions. The man is clearly not comfortable in live sketch comedy, and it made for an agonizingly awkward hour of television.
#3: Nancy Kerrigan
Let’s be honest here – that Nancy Kerrigan episode was a blatant ratings ploy, and nothing more. After being attacked by a hired thug linked to rival Tonya Harding, the figure skater was national news, which the producers of “SNL” decided was a good enough reason to have her host. It definitely wasn’t, and Kerrigan was awful. She was a horrible actress and comedian who lacked both timing and charisma, and she looked supremely uncomfortable the entire time, almost as if she was internally questioning why she was there. We were - and still are - wondering the same thing.
#2: Justin Bieber
While it may have been popular to hate on Bieber in 2013, we like to think that viewers kept an open mind when it came to his hosting of “Saturday Night Live.” However, even the most open-minded viewers must admit that his gig was horrific. Bieber acted like he was the hottest thing on the planet and came across as if he did not care at all about his performance or his cast members’ comfort. Bill Hader allegedly called out Bieber’s diva behavior, deeming him difficult to get along with and singling out his enormous entourage who doted on his every move.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.
#1: Steven Seagal
Action stars don’t often make for great comedians. However, that didn’t stop “SNL” from hiring Steven Seagal as host back in 1991. Seagal was never known for his acting chops, and sadly, when taking the spotlight on SNL, he didn’t surprise anyone. Bad acting is one thing, but he was an alleged pain in the butt behind the scenes. He apparently complained about not understanding the jokes that were given to him, pitched terrible and inappropriate sketch ideas, and was reportedly rude to both the cast and writers. When it comes to horrible “SNL” hosts, no one competes with the boring and misguided mess that was Steven Seagal.