World-class athletes, be they professional or Olympian, continually inspire us with their feats of superhuman strength, their godlike physiques and their fierce determination. From the coliseum to the diamond to the gridiron, we have spent millennia watching them push themselves to their very limits to inspire us to reimagine our very capabilities. But over the past few generations, we’ve demanded more of our athletes.
Oh, sure, they run very fast, but can they make us laugh?
A select few have stepped up to the challenge and have been given the privilege of proving their comedic chops as host of Saturday Night Live, where many have learned that the Olympics were easy; comedy’s hard. Here are our fave five who earned a medal in funny.
The Pats pretty boy scored a touchdown with his performance on SNL, but his standout sketch was the TV Funhouse educational film parody that made us think twice about where we draw the line at sexual harassment. Herman Cain, take note.
Before the jail time, before the Trials of the Century, even before he was Nordberg—Simpson was a football player parodying one of the most iconic films of the 70s with one of the most iconic comedians of the 70s who had no compunction about performing with O.J. so close to such a sharp sword.
Phelps followed up his unprecedented eight gold medal win in the Beijing Olympics with an impressive gig as host that went, ahem, swimmingly. Being the first athlete host of a generation that was most likely to film sketches with his buddies growing up, it’s no surprise that he was able to turn in a solid gold performance. He was even able to laugh at his diet, to which we all aspire.
Despite the fact Kerrigan skated her way to a silver medal in Lillehammer, Norway, seven weeks after her knee was clubbed by her rival’s ex, Nancy found herself in a scandal: she referred to her participation in a Disney World parade as the “corniest thing [she] had ever done.” (This was considered a scandal in 1994. Isn’t that cute?) She had a good sense of humor about it, however, as she poked fun at it (and Tonya Harding, of course) in her opening monologue.
New York Yankee Derek Jeter not only had the pressure of performing on live TV, he was also performing in his hometown, a city notorious for their strong opinions. Jeter took it in stride, and even did a sketch in drag with a little help from his fellow boys in pinstripes.
Which athlete do you think should host SNL next? Leave it in the comments!