Live From New York: the Top 5 SNL Hosts of All Time

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With the recent addition of Justin Timberlake to the prestigious “Five-Timers Club,” there’s been a lot of talk of what it takes to become a truly legendary host of “Saturday Night Live.” These days, more of the hosting duties are going to people who are pimping their latest movie or album, rather than those that are just really damn funny. In JT’s case, it actually happens to be both.
But the greatest hosts of all time are the ones that seem to be around so often they could be mistaken for actual cast members. They’re the ones that have been part of more unforgettable sketches than you can count, and are asked back time and again because they absolutely kill it every time out.

5 John Goodman

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John Goodman is another guy who may as well just have joined the cast, taking on hosting duties 12 different times over the years and showing up in countless guest appearances. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the late nineties, Goodman repeatedly appeared as Linda Tripp, the less than comely friend who recorded her phone calls with Lewinsky and blew the whole ordeal wide open. He’s also appeared in the “Bill Swerski’s Super Fans” (Da Bears) sketches and joined Dan Aykroyd in the “Blues Brothers” sketches and an ill-fated movie after the death of John Belushi.

4 Tom Hanks

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He may be an Academy Award-winning leading man, but don’t sleep on Tom Hanks’ comedy chops; he is one seriously funny dude. A fact that the people at “Saturday Night Live” are obviously well aware of, since they’ve called on him to host the show eight different times. He’s become such a beloved guest host that he has actually had several recurring characters like the “Girl Watchers” with Jon Lovitz, and the ironically memorable “Mr. Short Term Memory.” As an SNL host or on the big screen, Hanks is likeable in every role he takes, even when he’s playing a moronic version of himself and devastating Will Ferrell on “Celebrity Jeopardy.”

3 Christopher Walken

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Two words: The Continental. Few long-repeated SNL gags have ever had the legs that this sketch does, and it’s all thanks to its star, Christopher Walken. Playing the creepy, borderline-rapey owner of The Continental, this sketch offers some the most hilarious and brilliantly simple POV camera-work in the show’s history. There’s just nothing funnier than seeing Walken desperately trying to convince us not to leave his love-nest/dungeon. In his seven turns as the host of SNL, Walken has always turned out comedic gems, the best of which were the world’s most confused census taker, and of course, Blue Oyster Cult’s record producer who simply has “gotta have more cowbell!”

2 Alec Baldwin

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Alec Baldwin has spent so much time on the stage for “Saturday Night Live,” it may actually be some kind of labor law violation if they don’t provide him with a pension when he retires. Most people know him as Jack Donaghy from “30 Rock,” but even when Baldwin’s career wasn’t necessarily buzzing, SNL brought him in over and over to host because the guy was simply hilarious. He holds the current record for most times hosting at 16, and has played some priceless roles over the years like Canteen Boy’s horny Scout Leader, Tony Bennett, and the esteemed Mr. Pete Schweddy, purveyor of the delicious holiday treat, “Schweddy Balls.”

1 Steve Martin

Steve Martin takes the number one spot here for one reason; he is so ingrained in the show that most people don’t realize he was never actually an SNL cast member. He was a staple of the show’s early years, leading many to forget that he wasn’t actually part of that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi cast; Martin was just so funny that they kept bringing him in anyway. He became an SNL legend thanks to his “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” sketches with Dan Aykroyd, has hosted the show a whopping 15 times, and has now been a part of “Saturday Night Live” for four decades.

TK Kelly is a comic and writer who has performed at clubs across the country like the Comedy Store, the Improv, Gotham, and Standup NY. He has also written for Tosh.0, Comedy Central Studios, Funny or Die, Recycled Babies Sketch Comedy, and Second City. His standup comedy has been described as “a thing that happens sometimes,” and according to one of his grandmothers, he is a generally delightful young man. If he were forced at gunpoint to describe himself in one word, that would be a really weird hostage situation.

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