How Justin Timberlake Hosting SNL Became Appointment Television

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by Howard Decker @HowardTheDeck on March 7, 2013

in TV Discussion

*originally published in March 2013

One of the things Saturday Night Live fans love most is that commercial break right after the first skit. You know the one- where they show the name of the upcoming host and musical guest. There are a few names that have come to invoke a different reaction than others. A feeling of familiarity, of  joy, and of confidence in knowing that will be a great episode.

Names like Alec Baldwin. Tom Hanks. Steve Martin. Christopher Walken. Justin Timberlake.

justin timberlake SNL 2013

That’s right, Justin Timberlake has entered the ranks of the most anticipated and dependably hilarious recurring hosts. How did this happen? How did a kid from a boy band with a successful solo career end up amongst the best SNL hosts of all time?

Simply put, he just gets it.

Timberlake has a natural timing and delivery that you can’t teach. He’s got an uncanny ability to make you feel like you can relate to him, even though there isn’t a whole lot that you and Justin Timberlake have in common. He’s got an amazing rapport with the SNL cast. You can see how much fun they’re having every time he appears, even in pre-recorded skits.

He’s created more marketable recurring characters in the last ten years than any other host (Robin Gibb, Omeletteville/Homelessville/Whatever-ville guy, half of the “Dick in a Box”/”Mother Lover” R&B group- which should totally record a full length album, by the way).

timberlake snl gibb fallon

Paul Rudd is a difficult person to steal any show from, but Timberlake did it in 2008. He made an unannounced cameo appearance on the episode Rudd hosted, popping up on Weekend Update (explaining what a Timberlake-hosted SNL ep would look like in two minutes) and then in a parody of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video, one of the best SNL skits of the last decade.

timberlake snl rudd beyonce single ladies

He puts his ego aside every time he hosts. The 2009 skit “Immigrant’s Tale” was basically built around a Timberlake/Britney Spears joke and was a mini-roast of Justin’s career.

Let’s stop for a second. We’re talking about a singer with some acting experience. Not a professional comedian. He has no comedic background. Saturday Night Live is his comedic background.

But it doesn’t matter. Timberlake is consistently funnier than most of the stand up comedians that host SNL. He’s the only supporting character that was ever able to hang joke for joke with Kristen Wiig’s “Target Lady”. He never seems out of place or in over his head, whether it’s physical comedy, subtle humor, playing himself on Weekend Update, or in pre-recorded Digital Shorts. Nothing overwhelms him, and no comedic detail escapes him.

When Justin Timberlake hosts the upcoming episode of SNL on March 9, we’ll no longer be expecting a good musical guest who can “sorta hang” in the sketches. We’re watching one of the great ones solidify his place among the best hosts of all time.

 

 

Howie Decker UnderScoopFIREHowie Decker (@HowardtheDeck) is the chief blogger and editor of UnderScoopFire. He likes fantasy baseball & taco night. You can read his Letter from the Editor here.

 

 

  • Hail Mary

    Yup. You’re 100% right. Can’t wait till Saturday night.

    • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

      There’s NO way I’m not watching this ep live.

  • handsybroad

    So so true he’s the best

  • http://eclectikrelaxation.com @eclectik

    Shame he wasnt a regular cast member while Andy was

    The Digital Shorts with the Loney Island are legendary as well as “Bring it own down to xxx-ville”

    Good read, a top 5 JT sketches woulda been the icing on the cake

    • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

      I found a few lists like that out there. I probably mentioned all five of my favorites in the post, but I’d go: 5.Immigrant’s Tale 4. Single Ladies 3. Barry Gibb Talk Show 2. Homelessville 1. Dick in a Box

  • http://aeiouwhy.blogspot.com Dex (@Dex1138)

    When we watched this past show, my wife let out a “WOO-HOO!” when we saw JT was on next week and deservedly so.
    The “-ville guy” skits are my favorite.

    • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

      The Ville guy gets me every time. Back when he was on the Christmas ep my roomates (at the time) and I must have watched that skit 20 times.

      My wife never watches SNL live (it’s past her bedtime) but she’s committed to seeing this ep as it happens.

  • Sammy

    Great call. Appointment television is the perfect term. I usually record snl but I’ll be watching live this episode

  • James

    I didn’t realize he’d hosted so many times. Yes, every time he’s on it’s always good. Hoping we get a “-ville” guy, a Gibb talk show and maybe even a Samberg return for a digital short

    • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

      the cameos that do/do not happen will be interesting. I’m hoping for Fallon and Samberg (of course).

  • ShezCrafti

    Britney cheating on him is the best thing that ever happened to that boy.

    • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

      And Cry Me A River was an awesome video about it

  • https://twitter.com/#!/chapmanrunner Corey Chapman

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