Top 10 Times SNL Hosts Broke Character
VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb
WRITTEN BY: Sammie Purcell
Like the cast, "SNL" hosts break character too. For this list, we'll be looking at the funniest times our favorite stars just couldn't keep it together on “Saturday Night Live.” Our countdown includes Janet Jackson, Larry David, Sean Hayes, and more!
Top 10 Times SNL Hosts Broke Character
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times SNL Hosts Broke Character.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the funniest times our favorite stars just couldn’t keep it together on “Saturday Night Live.” If we missed any of your favorite flubs, let us know in the comments below.
#10: Justin Timberlake
“The Barry Gibb Talk Show: Bee Gees Singers”
If anyone has proven themselves to be an “SNL” all-star, it’s Justin Timberlake – to join the five-timers club, you can’t be a slouch in the comedian department. But even five timers fall sometimes. In one of Timberlake’s earlier performances on the show, he did a skit with Jimmy Fallon titled “The Barry Gibb Talk Show.” In the skit, Fallon plays the titular Gibb, taking on the singer’s signature falsetto and speaking voice. As Barry’s brother Robin, Timberlake is hilarious, but sometimes has a hard time – understandably – keeping a straight face at Fallon’s antics. The face he makes to try and keep himself from laughing is one for the books.
#9: Janet Jackson
To Janet’s credit, it’s pretty hard to watch this sketch and not crack a smile. Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, and other members of the “SNL” cast play a group of Italian winemakers who are teaching a group of tourists about their craft. Through the sketch, they all take turns saying the words “cork soaker” multiple times in very thick Italian accents … we’ll give you a few moments to figure out what that sounds like. Janet plays one of the tourists, and breaks character as she’s asking the winemakers how they learned to soak corks. She flubs a bit, starts to giggle, and things just devolve from there.
#8: Emily Blunt
You’d think a star like Emily Blunt would have hosted “Saturday Night Live” multiple times, so you might be surprised to learn the actress only has one hosting gig under her belt so far. She did a wonderful job by our standards, but there was one skit where she sort of lost her cool. In a skit called “Escorts,” Blunt and cast member Leslie Jones play two escorts who get very specific about what they will and will not do. Blunt mostly keeps it together through the first part of the sketch, but there’s a moment towards the end where she has to fake a fall. She pops her head over the couch to say her line – but just can’t stop a giggle fit from taking over.
#7: Larry David
Veteran comedians are known for their ability to keep character no matter how funny the situation – so it’s a wonderful, but rare treat when someone like Larry David can’t help but laugh at a sketch. David was a writer for “SNL” during its 10th season, and came back years later to play Bernie Sanders during Season 41. But it was during one of his hosting stints that he caught a case of the giggles. In a skit called “New Wife,” David introduces his friends to his very young new wife, played by Cecily Strong. The skit plays on someone as old as Larry David having to say ridiculous, hip lingo – and he seems just as tickled by it as the rest of us.
#6: Jamie Foxx
“Saturday Night Live” has had some pretty strange running skits over the years, but one of the oddest has got to be “Maine Justice.” “SNL” veteran Justin Timberlake once starred in this sketch, but today we want to honor Jamie Foxx’s turn. The sketch itself is absolutely ridiculous – the people in a courtroom in Maine act like they’re from the Louisiana bayou, confusing a character who’s from out of town. If we’re being honest, Jason Sudeikis’ accent alone would have probably made us laugh way earlier in the sketch, so kudos to Foxx for holding on as long as he did. But there’s one particular quote at the end that involves the words “swamp” and “butt,” and Foxx just can’t keep it in.
#5: Billie Eilish
When a host doesn’t have a lot of comedy chops under their belt, it’s easy to see why some of the skits that “Saturday Night Live” writers come up with might throw them off their game. So is the case for Billie Eilish, who hosted the show in 2021 – and did surprisingly well for a first-time host, especially one so young! One of her best skits was “Hotel Ad,” in which Eilish lent her impeccable monotone voice to a very strange and off-putting commercial for a hotel. But unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – Eilish couldn’t hold that deadpan tone for long – especially not next to the very hilarious Kate McKinnon.
#4: Margot Robbie
“Actress Round Table”
Sometimes, a skit hits a little close to home. On Margot Robbie’s only time hosting the show so far, one of the skit’s she did was a spoof of an actress’ round table discussion, featuring Robbie doing a fairly good Keira Knightley impression. The other cast members are also playing younger, real actresses – all except for Kate McKinnon, who is playing a fake actress named Debette Goldry who is much older and worked during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The gag is that while all the younger actresses give standard, fairly boring answers, Debette tells totally wacky, often inappropriate stories from long ago in her career. Poor Robbie has a tremendously hard time not laughing at her, but hey – it’s hard not to laugh at Kate McKinnon.
#3: Sean Hayes
Not many actors are as well known for a singular character as Sean Hayes is, but Jack from “Will & Grace” is one of the most indelible sitcom characters of all time. So, it makes sense that Hayes would be given a character semi-similar to Jack on his “Saturday Night Live” stint in 2001 – think Jack, but a little more hipster. In this skit, Hayes and Jimmy Fallon play a couple of sales clerks at a store called Jeffrey’s who mock and belittle every customer who comes in. Hayes mostly keeps it together during the skit, but when Will Ferrell rolls in on a motorized scooter? Well, that’s the end of Hayes’ straight face.
#2: Kevin Hart
“Barnes and Noble Firing”
And once again, we get a veteran comedian who can’t quite keep it together – but to Kevin Hart’s credit, this Barnes and Noble sketch is one of the funniest the show has produced in its later years. Hart plays a manager at a Barnes and Noble store who has to fire one of his employees. Thinking they’re on the chopping block, Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan begin insulting their coworkers within an inch of their lives. These two are hilarious, but Tim Robinson is who finally gets Hart to crack. During one of Hart’s lines, Robinson pops up behind him without warning, causing him to break character and let out a quick laugh.
#1: Ryan Gosling
When you make Ryan Gosling break character this badly, the only choice is to do it again! And that’s exactly what “Saturday Night Live” did. When Ryan Gosling first appeared in the “Close Encounter” sketch, there was no way we could have known just how iconic this appearance would come to be. The sketch portrays three people who are abducted by aliens and are asked to tell the government about their experience, and marks another instance of Kate McKinnon making people absolutely lose it. As soon as she gets going, Gosling is absolutely down for the count – he tries to hide behind his hand, but nothing can hide that smile. Gosling later reprised the sketch, but nothing is as good as the original.