Friday list: The most surprisingly funny SNL hosts
Gabourey Sidibe is scheduled to host "Saturday Night Live" this week. Yes, that Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated actress who played the mumbly, perpetually downcast, abused teen in "Precious," a movie now officially listed as a synonym in Roget's Thesaurus for the words "serious" and "depressing."
Can Sidibe show us an unexpectedly funny side? Considering that she's actually pretty sunny and giggly in real life, we think it's entirely possible. And we're rooting for her to rock it tomorrow night.
Our hope that Sidibe finds her place in the SNL Host Hall of Fame got us thinking about past hosts who surprised with their graceful, hilarious ability to slip into sketch-comedy mode. Which brings us to today's Friday List: our top 10 most surprisingly funny "Saturday Night Live" hosts from the past decade.
Which guest hosts surprised you with their comic stylings? Share your picks below...
1. Justin Timberlake
We knew Mr. "Rock That Body" was pretty talented. But we had no idea how freaking funny, agile and amazing he was until he hosted SNL in 2003. He's now hosted three times, and often pops up when he's not hosting to do bit parts, like mixing it up in a unitard in this Beyonce video parody. While much has been made of Timberlake's genius roles in Digital Shorts like "[Bleep] in a Box," he even raises the level of more traditional sketches like "Immigrant Tale." (See below) Seriously, can't he put his lucrative movie and music careers on hold so he can do SNL every week?
2. Jon Hamm
When Hamm hosted SNL for the first time in 2008, most people knew that he could play mysterious, serious and smokingly-retro hot, as he does on "Mad Men." But what we didn't know is that Don Draper is hi-LAR-ious, a fact he's since proven further by appearing on "30 Rock" and hosting SNL again earlier this year. And with that, we present Don Draper's Guide to Picking Up Women.
3. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
The Rock's first hosting gig on SNL back in 2000 was so mind-blowing, it helped launch his movie career. He's held the gig on three occasions and in that time, he's dressed in drag, he's portrayed "The Rock" Obama and he's proved he has a pretty smooth singing voice:
4. Peyton Manning
Athletes don't have the best track record as far as SNL hosts go. (See Michael Phelps and Andy Roddick for just two examples.) But the Super Bowl-winning Colts quarterback not only was totally game for every bit (the United Way spoof -- a classic), he even demonstrated an ability to use that hulking, awkward football body to its full comedic advantage in this clip that never ceases to crack us up.
5. Natalie Portman
You knew her from her serious dramatic work in films like "Closer," "Garden State" and -- no snickering -- the "Star Wars" prequels. But Padme showed no fear when she hosted SNL back in 2006, giving us, among other things, a self-parodying Digital Short on par with the brilliance of "Lazy Sunday."
6. Brian Williams
We had seen the journalist crack jokes with David Letterman. But could he rise to the challenge of being the first TV anchor to host SNL, and actually make us laugh? The answer turned out to be yes.
7. Ben Affleck
Affleck has starred in many comedies. And he's often funny in interviews. But -- how to say this diplomatically? -- he isn't exactly known for being a mad-talented thespian. But in all four of his appearances as SNL host, he's shown a versatility that flicks like "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon" never captured. And even if he didn't deliver a spot-on impersonation of Keith Olbermann (see below), he took the pundit's persona to a level of hyper-intensity we had to admire.
8. Jake Gyllenhaal
Yet another of those usually serious actors who showed America he can do funny with the best of 'em, Gyllenhaal pretty much had us at his opening monologue, when he belted out "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in a high falsetto while changing into a full-on evening gown and wig. And may we just say: Good God, he looks good in a dress. Sadly, we couldn't find an embeddable clip, but you can watch it on YouTube in all its over-the-top glory.
9. Matthew Fox
We swear we're not just saying this because he plays Jack Shephard on our favorite TV show ever. When he helmed SNL in 2006, Fox showed a willingness to poke fun at himself, while also taking on the roles of traffic cop, House DJ and a professor, among other things. You can watch clips of most of his sketches here (warning: downloading involved); below, watch him play straight man during a hilarious send-up of obsessed "Lost" fans.
10. Lindsay Lohan
Sure, Lohan had done comedies like "Mean Girls" and "Freaky Friday" before she scored her first SNL hosting gig in 2005. But it wasn't clear whether she could translate her skills to live television. Guess what? She handled sketch comedy like a pro. In fact, she keeps it together during the famous Debbie Downer sketch far more effectively than then-cast regulars Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch. Watch, and remember a time when Lohan was known for her promising talent instead of her ridiculous Tweets.
| April 23, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories: Friday Lists, Pop Culture, TV | Tags: SNL, Saturday Night Live
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