Betty White’s successful stint as host of “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend not only gave the show its best ratings in 18 months, but ever so briefly made “Saturday Night Live” culturally relevant again. In fact, with Baldwin hosting this weekend — his 15th appearance as host, tying him with Steve Martin for most all time — it’ll be the second time this season that I’ll actually watch the show live (I normally catch an abbreviated version of the show the morning after, either on TiVo or via Hulu).
With the success of the grassroots Facebook campaign to get White on the show, new FB groups are already springing up to get “SNL” to bring other never-haves to the stage, including — among others — Rachel Maddow (cool). It’s not going to work, though, The Facebook thing was a one-off, and further attempts to duplicate that process will not only fail, but come off as kind of lame.
That said, there are a few neverhaves that I’d really like to see host the show. If Lorne Michaels could persuade any of the five below to host (or vice versa), I could see myself tuning in live again a few times next season.
5. Joel McHale: It’d be the perfect cross-promotion if NBC could use the “SNL” stage to boost the sagging popularity of its best show, “Community,” by featuring its star as the host. McHale is charismatic, fast-talking, and he can write some of his own material. There are a number of things to the writers could do with McHale, too, including to parody the number of movie references in “Community” (if it’s even possible for “SNL” to outdo “Community” in that regard) and, perhaps, use the opportunity to bring Chevy Chase back for a cameo. And if all else fails, McHale could at least do a side-by-side segment of “The Soup,” spoofing “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update during Weekend Update (how’s that for meta?).
4. Angelina Jolie: The reasoning behind this choice is partially because Jolie — despite her A-list status — has never hosted the show, and as Tom Hanks has proven on several occasions, you’re never too big to host “SNL.” I’d honestly like to see if Jolie has an actual sense of humor: Can she satirize her own personal life, her relationship with Brad Pitt, and her children? Can she do anything besides action movies and overcooked melodramas. She’s never really demonstrated a comedic sensibility, but that’s part of the fun, in seeing if they have it in them. (See Jon Hamm’s brilliant turn as host, for instance).
3. Kristin Chenoweth: It’s just silly that “SNL” hasn’t already exploited Chenoweth’s talents, which seem tailor made for “SNL.” She can sing; she can dance; she can act; she’s got a great sense of humor; and she’s already been the topic of another late-night variety show within a show (Sarah Paulson’s character on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” was based on Chenowith). The Digital Short possibilities are endless, and if “SNL” really wanted to do it up, they could do a musical themed episode with Chenowethand several cameos from the cast of “Glee,” which is beyond ripe for parody.
2. Nathan Fillion: Come on, now. Why hasn’t Fillion hosted the show yet? He’s a popular enough presence in the mainstream world now, isn’t he? He’s got “Castle,” he’s got a huge cult fanbase thanks to “Firefly,” a lot of folks know him from “Desperate Housewives,” and he’s Captain Hammer. This has to happen, people. Imagine: A skit about a two detectives, one of which has lost his ability to deliver a wry comeback. Or a Digital Short where Captain Hammer faces off against the Laser Cats. It’ll be a true test of how bad “SNL” is if they can manage to mess up a Fillion-hosted episode.
1. Conan O’Brien: This would be the absolute smartest thing for Conan and NBC. O’Brien kicks off his new show in November and his contractual inability to insult NBC or Jay Leno expires then. You know, O’Brien is going to unleash all his pent up anger and hurt in a epic diatribe. If NBC is smart, they’d take advantage of the ratings they could squeeze out of it. Plus, it’d be a sweet homecoming for Conan, who started out as a writer on “SNL” and was hired by Lorne Michaels to take over “Late Night.” Oh, and it’d give him one last opportunity to use all those characters and ideas owned by NBC — like Triumph the Insult Dog — that he can’t take to TBS with him. If there’s one host, at this point, who could outdraw Betty White, it’d be Conan. And it might give everyone an opportunity to bury the hatchet and move on.