I love SNL. I still watch it religiously every week. Though some episodes drag, for the most part there are still two or three sketches per week that crack me up. Obscure returning characters like Gemma? Sign me up. But there’s something that’s bothered me the last few seasons: The same people hosting over and over again has resulted in a recent significant uptick into the five-timers club. For those who don’t know, people who have hosted SNL have, since Tom Hanks’s fifth time hosting, been “inducted” into the five-timers club.
Just this season, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa McCarthy, and The Rock were made members. In 2015, Tina Fey joined their ranks, and in 2013, both Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck were inductees. There are only 19 members, and SNL just finished its 42nd year. That means that, on average, you should get a five-timer every 2 1/2 seasons at the current rate. But prior to 2013, you only had 13 people out of 37 seasons, meaning that in the past five seasons, you’ve had on average one new inductee per season (and three this year alone!). Now, to be fair, it took some of these hosts a long time: per Wikipedia, it took Timberlake 9 years, Affleck 13 years, Johansson 11 years, and The Rock 17 years. By comparison, it only took omnipresent SNLer Alec Baldwin 4 years, and he’s obviously hosted the show nearly 20 times, and appeared on numerous other episodes.
Still – the five-timers club used to be rarified air. It was reserved for SNL royalty like Baldwin, Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, and former cast members like Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. This is me speaking wholly anecdotally, but it seems like SNL now either uses a host just once (think: Charlie Day, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, John Cena, Jeremy Renner) or goes back to old favorites (the newly-inducted hosts mentioned above, Jimmy Fallon, and former cast members like Kristen Wiig). Some people have done terribly with their one shot at hosting (I’m looking at you, January Jones) but there are plenty of hosts who deserve a second or third chance.
I looked at the list of hosts from Season 32, i.e. 10 years ago, and look at some people who did well and should definitely return as host: Rainn Wilson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John C. Reilly. Of course, that season also had as hosts five-timers Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, and ScarJo.
Season 33 also had people who should return to host like James Franco, Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Seth Rogen. Of course, it also had hosting gigs by Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Dwayne Johnson and Justin Timberlake, five-timers all. So it seems as though every season, the show has taken a chance on someone new, and also gone back to old favorites. And again, this is just my personal take, but it seems like the pool of “old favorites” the show comes back to is growing smaller.
I know part of hosting SNL is having a movie or TV show to push, and some of it is how well the original hosting gig went. And I’ll be very happy for Paul Rudd’s next hosting gig, or Zach Galifinakis’s, or Jonah Hill’s, or Emma Stone’s – these people all seem not only to get SNL’s sensibilities, but are able to contribute a lasting character or deep respect for the show (Rudd with the Vogelchecks especially).
But I hope that, along with bringing back Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer, or hosts from the past, the show takes a chance on people who’ve never hosted before. I think episodes hosted by Joel McHale, Nick Offerman, Mark Wahlberg, John Cho, Jordan Peele, Aubrey Plaza, Amanda Peet, Jake Johnson, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, or John Oliver would be fun, and those were off the top of my head. (And if you have suggestions, please write them in the comments.)
Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” I don’t want to watch an SNL that’s just the same members of a club, over and over again.