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Headline Acts: Musicians Who Host “Saturday Night Live”

November 6th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

This weekend, Taylor Swift joins a long list of artists who have pulled double-duty on the Saturday Night Live set, performing not only as a musical guest, but also hosting the show and acting in several sketches. Time will tell how well the country/pop star will do — though perhaps she picked up a few things while filming Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend, Twilight: New Moon star Taylor Lautner. (Oh, we can imagine the jokes already.) As Swift preps her monologue and braces herself for a cavalcade of Kanye West jokes, the Hulu team took a look back at some of the other musical artists who gave hosting a try — sometimes with mixed results. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

Justin Timberlake: Host with the Most
Few artists from the Billboard charts have managed to resonate with the SNL crowd as well as the guy who brought sexy back. Whether he’s wearing a Chess King button-down in digital shorts like “Motherlover” or rocking a white leisure suit as Robin Gibb in the hilarious “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketches, Justin Timberlake is gold as far as SNL is concerned. Here, he shares some family history in a little sketch called “Immigrant Tale.”

Paul Simon: The Original
Long before Justin Timberlake was born, singer-songwriter Paul Simon paved the way for generations of musical guests looking for hosting duties. His monologue was self-effacing, good-spirited — and still funny after all these years.

Sting: The Rocker
Promoting his 1991 release “Soul Cages,” Sting put on a punk rock wig to channel his inner Billy Idol for this classic sketch featuring the who’s-who of 1990s SNL. In the end, the sketch served as a vehicle for the late, great Phil Hartman to deliver his belligerent Frank Sinatra impression, but Sting did a respectable job as the snarling rocker.



Queen Latifah: Crossover Artist

Though her 2004 movie Taxi — also starring Jimmy Fallon from SNL — bombed in the box office, Queen Latifah is one of the few music artists who can hold her own in front of the camera. In this fake commercial, she played up the stresses of being one of the only two black women in her office. Fortunately, she had just the cure.



Ludacris: Sharing the Spotlight

In November 2006, actor-rapper Ludacris stepped aside for the debut of the much more talented Blizzard Man (Andy Samberg at his dorkiest), whom ‘Cris lauded as “Marvin Gaye mixed with a little Stevie Wonder.” And though Samberg is definitely the scene stealer here, Ludacris’ performance proves that the SNL writers can’t go wrong when they ask their double-duty hosts to just play themselves.

Janet Jackson: Tongue-Tied
Granted, when Janet Jackson — that’s Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty — hosted, she was no stranger to acting. After all, she starred in “Good Times” in the 1970. Her “SNL” gig was nearly 30 years later, though, so it’s no wonder she tripped up in this tongue-twister of sketch that was full of innuendo.

Jon Bon Jovi: ’80s Flashback
While Amy Poehler is the true star of this ’80s flashback sketch, a cloud of Aqua Net fumes brought a bandana-clad Jon Bon Jovi to life, straight from the “Slippery When Wet” era. For those of us old enough to remember “You Give Love a Bad Name,” it’s a delight to hear that the young Jon Francis Bon Jovi, Jr., was just another fat kid who played the French horn.

Steve Martin: Role Reversal
SNL alum Steve Martin was no stranger to hosting duties when he headlined the late night show last January — after all, it was his 15th time delivering a monologue — but this time, things were different. Martin also performed “Late for School” as musical guest. In addition to his folksy banjo ditty, he presented one cool digital short: “Laser Cats 4.”



Garth Brooks: Alter-Egos

In November 1999, the second time country singer Garth Brooks hosted SNL, his alter ego, Chris Gaines performed as the musical guest. The writers played up this peculiar lineup with an ongoing gag about a bizarre love triangle between Brooks, Gaines and Chris Kattan’s “Mango” character.

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