Justin Timberlake at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016

Justin Timberlake at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016 (Photo by magicinfoto on Shutterstock)

When a guest host walks onto the SNL stage, you never quite know what you’re going to get. They could be a seasoned comedian or an A-list actor taking a comedic leap of faith. The beauty is in the unpredictability. With the best “Saturday Night Live” guests, you know you’re in for a wild ride filled with zany characters, outrageous scenarios, and moments that will leave you in stitches.

But it’s not just about the host’s star power; it’s about their willingness to let loose and embrace the absurdity of SNL’s sketches. Watching someone who’s known for their dramatic chops or serious roles suddenly don a wig and become a goofball is nothing short of delightful. It’s like seeing your favorite actor transform into a hilarious shape-shifter for a night.

What truly makes the experience fun is the chemistry between the host and the SNL cast. The actors feed off each other’s energy, and you can sense the camaraderie and the genuine joy of making each other laugh. It’s like being invited to the coolest comedy party in town, and you’re right there in the middle of it.

To celebrate these joyful moments in SNL television history, StudyFinds has crafted this list of the best SNL guests of all time, according to experts. Which host made you laugh the most? Leave a comment to let us know!

Steve Martin at the 2006 "Pink Panther" premiere
Steve Martin at the 2006 “Pink Panther” premiere (Photo by Everett Collection on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Saturday Night Live Guests, According to Fans

1. Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has earned the reputation for being the best “Saturday Night Live” guest host of all time. According to Complex, “Amongst the many fan favorite hosts who never disappoint is triple threat Justin Timberlake. Though he’s probably most well-known for his work in digital shorts, his series of skits as an overzealous street pitchman who’s constantly outdoing his competitors with altered pop songs is one of his best shticks. It’s almost irritating seeing JT be funny and talented at the same time, but seeing him dressed as a cheese omelette kind of helps.”

How can one person be that handsome and that funny? Cinema Blend has the answer: “No SNL event is bigger than when Justin Timberlake is in the house. The pop star and actor is the star of multiple recurring sketches that never fail to get a laugh, such as ‘Barry Gibb Talk Show’ or ‘Omeletteville’ and his many subsequent follow-ups, or anything he’s teamed up with Andy Samberg for. Justin Timberlake has cemented himself as Saturday Night Live’s definitive host for the current generation.”

We have to call it a cute controversy because when Justin Timberlake used a vulgar term on live television, no one cringed. In fact, everyone loved him more afterwards. U.S. Magazine explains, “While taking on the hosting duties, Timberlake’s most memorable moments came when he performed comedic songs like ‘Dick in a Box’ alongside Andy Samberg’s Lonely Island group. In April 2020, the former ‘NSync member revealed that the song nearly didn’t happen. ‘I fully believe that that idea would not have been seen all the way through if the bigwigs would’ve known what we were doing,’ he said on Hot Ones, noting that the Federal Communications Commission came by to caution them about the risqué track.”

2. Alec Baldwin

Yes, Alec Baldwin is famous for his roles on the show “30 Rock,” the movie “Beetlejuice” as well as “The Departed,” however, his contribution to “Saturday Night Live” earns him unexpected accolades time and time again. “With 17 appearances as host, Alec Baldwin holds the record for the most times hosting Saturday Night Live. Although he’s most recognized for his Donald Trump impression, he also played hilarious original characters like Pete Schweddy and Winter’s Breath,” shares Buzzfeed.

Thankfully, it’s only a short trip from Alec’s home in New York’s Greenwich Village to the studio at Rockefeller Plaza. This way Alec can drop in any time he wishes to delight viewers with his most famous impression. “Sometimes it is hard to believe that Alec Baldwin has never been an official SNL cast member, especially with his unbelievable talent for impersonations, such as Tony Bennett, and brimming commitment to every sketch. Now, he shows up nearly every single week as the show’s in-house Donald Trump,” writes Cinema Blend.

For more than three decades we have watched Baldwin appear on SNL and not a single time have we ever grew tired of him. “Alec Baldwin always brings the heat when he takes the iconic stage,” writes Movie Web. “He made his debut back in 1990 and hasn’t slowed down since, not only hosting but also appearing dozens of times as former President Donald Trump. His impersonation was met with critical acclaim and in 2017 it earned him a Primetime Emmy Award.”

3. Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is definitely one of the most prolific actors of our time and it is no surprise that when he graces SNL with his presence, everyone is delighted to witness it. A reviewer at CBR explains, “While hosting SNL, Tom Hanks took advantage of his title as ‘America’s Dad’ using his time to not only make viewers laugh, but also to touch on some important issues. Tom Hanks didn’t shy away from improvising and playing off of other cast members. One of Hanks’ most iconic and relevant sketches was ‘Black Jeopardy,’ which made fans laugh and sparked conversation.”

Hanks gave us all the warm and fuzzies in his iconic role as Forrest Gump with very little smiling and laughing on camera. Yet, it’s strange that we can look at his star profile today and forget his history of being a goofball. “Hanks has also made a guest appearance on SNL 10 times and in 2017 was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for it,” adds Movie Web. “With an SNL hosting resume spanning 35 years, Hanks has starred in countless giggle-worthy skits and reminded viewers that he got his start in Hollywood through comedy.”

Hank’s most memorable SNL skits did not fail to garner a bit of controversy. “This Oscar winner has hosted ten times and while only three of those episodes debuted this century, they contained many of his best bits. Some of them even rank up there with the funniest ‘SNL’ sketches of the past twenty years,” writes Watch Mojo. “The one that immediately comes to mind is ‘Haunted Elevator,’ which introduced the world to a new Halloween icon in David S. Pumpkins. Hanks shined once again as an unlikely contestant on ‘Black Jeopardy.’ Hanks was also the first host of ‘SNL at Home,’ a fitting choice since he was one of the first household names to be diagnosed with COVID-19. It was comforting to see America’s Dad recovered and ready to make the world laugh during such a difficult time.”

4. Steve Martin

Although it has been quite a while since Steve Martin has appeared on SNL, the memories he left behind can never be erased. “Through all of his gigs dating back to 1976, Martin’s most memorable skit has been and always will be the Festrunk Brothers, or as you may know them, two wild and crazy guys. Martin and Dan Aykroyd, donning their silly outfits and incoherent ramblings, have made quite a pair as two obnoxious Europeans trying to pick up a couple of ‘foxes’ at any chance possible,” writes Complex.

You don’t have to be an SNL cast member to become a legend and Martin proves this. “It is impossible to discuss the most celebrated moments of Saturday Night Live without mentioning Steve Martin, from his performance as one half of the Festrunk Brothers (the ‘Wild and Crazy guys’) with Dan Aykroyd, donning pharaoh’s robes for a musical tribute to King Tut, and a tongue-in-cheek, decades-long battle for SNL dominance against Alec Baldwin. He may never have been a cast member (also surprisingly), but he is one of the program’s biggest names,” writes a reviewer from Cinema Blend.

He’s such a crazy guy and he knows it. “Martin’s character was so popular, he ended up naming one of his standup albums after it,” shares We Got This Covered. “Martin has continued to host and drop in for unannounced guest appearances on SNL through the decades. His 1991 opening dance number ‘Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight’ remains the gold standard of SNL cold opens.”

5. Melissa McCarthy

Don’t think that because Melissa McCarthy is last on our definitive list of the best SNL guest hosts, she is somehow not deserving of praise. SNL made its debut in 1975, the ancient days, and every single comedian wanted their name in lights on the show. Cinema Blend writes, “She may have been a fan favorite on Gilmore Girls and won an Emmy for the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, but Melissa McCarthy’s true television home is on the stage of Saturday Night Live. The two-time Academy Award-nominee has hosted the sketch comedy program five times and always with something memorable to show for it.”

In case you have not realized it, comedy is serious business. “She’s hosted five times and has repeatedly popped up as former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Every time she’s hosted, McCarthy has been nominated for a guest acting Emmy, winning once in 2017. It was McCarthy’s iconic turn as Spicer that arguably got her the gold, but that’s far from her only memorable contribution,” adds Watch Mojo.

Although Melissa came onto the scene long after the first round of comic geniuses appeared, she quickly joined the ranks without imitating any of them. “Her first gig was in 2011, and she memorably kicked off the show in ‘Taste Test,’ a sketch that had her lathering herself with Hidden Valley ranch dressing,” writes Movie Web. “From that moment on, McCarthy was a Saturday Night force to be reckoned with and would go on to host four more times, becoming a member of the ‘Five Timers Club’ in less than a decade.”

Which of these SNL hosts were your favorites? Leave a comment to let us know!

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Te-Erika Patterson

Te-Erika is the Publisher of The Feisty News for Women, the only full-service news source for women. Te-Erika is also the author of How To Love a Powerful Woman, Leave Your Baby Daddy and Loving Female Led Relationships: Relationships that Empower Women. A graduate of The University of Florida, Te-Erika enjoys a thriving career as a digital content creator that has spanned more than a decade. She enjoys chocolate, wine and solitude, and she is currently living a quiet life in Montgomery, Alabama. Follow her @Te-Erika

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