Saturday Night Live is two episodes deep into what has been a fine season so far, looking and feeling rejuvenated with new cast members, new writers, a new Donald Trump and two consecutive first-time hosts. As with any new season, the ancient sketch institution has an opportunity to refresh itself a bit, and so far it’s pulling it off. If they want to keep these good vibes going over the rest of the season, they might want to keep looking outside their typical roster of hosts and bring in some more new blood. Here are the ten actors and comedians we’d most like to see host SNL this season, all of whom (except one) would be a first-time host.
Aziz Ansari is the kind of comedian/actor double threat who could easily crush an episode of this show. He’s a smart, funny, talented writer and performer with a strong background in sketch comedy, and if he wanted to do any writing (or bring in some of his friends and colleagues to write for him) when he hosted, there’s a good chance it’d be better material than you’d otherwise get from SNL.
Kristen Bell’s effortlessly charming and has been funny in almost everything she’s done. (Even she couldn’t save Showtime’s laughless, lifeless House of Lies, though.) She’s currently starring in one of NBC’s most successful new shows, the smart sitcom The Good Place, and her summer movie Bad Moms did well enough that it’s getting a sequel / spin-off. People like her, she’s good at comedy, and she offers up a bit of network synergy, which should all make her a no-brainer for SNL.
Long ago, perhaps before you were born, an SNL host would occasionally buck tradition and break into song during their monologue. Now that happens like every other episode. They’ve overdone those musical monologues to death, but if they’re going to insist on cranking ‘em out, they should at least target hosts who can help them do it as well as they possibly can. (Kind of like with Lin-Manuel Miranda this past week.) Rachel Bloom would be a perfect host for both a musical monologue and just generally for the year 2016. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the most buzzed about shows of the last year, she won a Golden Globe back in January, and she’s the kind of fresh and exciting talent that would make SNL look relevant. Oh, and she’s also hilarious.
Hannibal Buress has a specific energy and performance style that may not seem like a good fit for a live comedy variety show. You can say that about a number of comedians who have successfully hosted the show over the years, though. Plus he’s familiar with how SNL operates, having written for it for a season. (He only got one sketch on the air, but that puts him in good company—the same thing happened to Larry David. Maybe Buress will return to the show with a semi-regular political impression in like 20 years.) Hosts have some leeway in what an episode looks like, and can bring in their own writers and write their own material, so I’m sure Buress could make the show work around his style of comedy. He’s one of the biggest comedians in the country today, and is constantly scoring memorable roles in films, and would be a cooler and savvier pop culture pick for SNL than another pop singer or bland movie star.
John Cena’s transformation into the Rock’s ethnically unambiguous heir is chugging along, with scene-stealing cameos in Trainwreck, Sisters and Parks & Recreation, and a rumored shot at replacing Michael Strahan on Kelly Ripa’s morning talk show. Hosting SNL was a crucial step into the larger pop culture consciousness for the Rock back in 2000, and Cena has proven that he has the comic chops to at least keep an episode afloat. He even got to do some sketch work with SNL’s Leslie Jones already at the Espys this year. This guy has basically excelled at everything he’s ever tried to do (even the diehard wrestling fans who regularly boo him still acknowledge he’s become one of the best in-ring talents of today), and hosting SNL would benefit him and the show and also probably keep the viewers entertained.
I don’t want to see Billy Eichner do SNL like a regular host awkwardly reading off of cue cards. I want to see him do it as Billy Eichner, shouting his way through everything, angrily refusing to humor the sketches and cast members, and just generally recreating the entire show around his distinct personality. It’s unlikely to happen, but it would definitely be fun to watch.
Former cast members didn’t use to come back as hosts that often, but it seems like pretty much anybody who stuck around for more than five seasons this century has already come back to host. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, even Fred Armisen have all hosted, sometimes more than once. I’m not complaining—they were all pretty great on the show, and have mostly been great as hosts (even the obnoxious Fallon’s two Christmas episodes as host were fun). There are a few big names who haven’t gotten the opportunity yet, and of those the one I’d most love to see as host is Will Forte. A lot of people overlook Forte’s incredible run on the show, but for the better part of a decade he was writing and starring in the weirdest, smartest and most hilarious sketches on the show. And with his unsettling sitcom The Last Man on Earth still doing well in the ratings, this is another pick that makes both comedy and business sense.
Now that Issa Rae has made the jump from YouTube to HBO (check out her great new show Insecure), her profile should be prepped to explode among older, whiter people—ie, the kind of people who book, promote and watch SNL. Issa Rae is a talented writer and actress with great comic skill, and would bring in a viewpoint that SNL hasn’t always been the best at exploring. If Insecure’s rave reviews can bring it the kind of pop culture ubiquity that Girls achieved during its first season, then maybe Issa Rae will be following in Lena Dunham’s footsteps as a future SNL host.
Yeah, Hamm’s hosted before (three times, even), but somehow it’s been almost six years since he last had the honor. He hosted twice in a single year, 2010, and seemed easily on the fast track to being the next Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin, but despite a number of cameos he hasn’t hosted since. Hamm has been great during all his SNL appearances, but a quick drop-in isn’t enough to satisfy our needs. He needs to host this show again, and soon. I mean, there’s an entire nation full of twelve-year-olds (ie, SNL’s ideal audience) who are probably too young to have ever seen the guy host, so he’d be a first-timer for them. He’s due.
What else is he going to be doing after the third week of January, other than getting paid thousands of dollars a word for every speech he gives the rest of his life?
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.