Only three actual comedians have hosted SNL this season — Louis C.K., Martin Short, and Jamie Foxx. And Foxx only half counts, since he’s better known these days as an Oscar-winning Serious Actor than as a sketch comedian and stand-up who starred in 100 episodes of his very own sitcom.
Perhaps not coincidentally, those comedian-hosted shows have also been some of the season’s strongest. Louis’s Abraham Lincoln-meets-Louie parody still stands as this year’s funniest pre-taped bit. Short is still at the top of EW’s weekly SNL host poll for a reason. And Foxx… well, since his comedy career reached its height in the ’90s, it makes a certain sort of sense that his episode of SNL felt like a relic from that era. Either way, he was a thoroughly commanding, dominant presence on the show, and that alone was enough to make his hosting turn impressive.
All of this bodes well for Kevin Hart, an actor and comedian who’s still a bit under the radar. For the uninitiated: Hart paid his dues (and, likely, his rent) by appearing in Scary Movie installments and other bottom-of-the-barrel parodies before breaking out in standup in the late ’00s. A weird but well-received “is he hosting or not hosting?” monologue at the 2011 VMAs led to a bona fide hosting gig at least year’s awards. And in January, Hart began starring in BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood, a reality TV parody he created that’s the next best thing to actual episodes of Queen of Jordan.
We can expect short jokes aplenty tonight, given Hart’s much-cited 5’4″ stature. But we’ll probably also get some sharp bits about the pope’s retirement, the Academy Awards — which handed out acting Oscars to three of this season’s SNL hosts — and maybe even those goat videos that refuse to die. (A cast variation on the Harlem Shake seems likely as well; if the show doesn’t do it now, they’ll miss out on the trend altogether.) All should give Hart plenty of good material; he has the potential both to give memorable leading performances and to fit pretty seamlessly into Saturday Night Live‘s ensemble.
Hart is joined by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a pair of rappers whose novelty song “Thrift Shop” blew up on YouTube last year. Can they recreate Internet magic IRL — and will they do so while wearing ridiculous, moth-eaten furs? Anything’s possible on SNL!
What are you hoping to see tonight — and how high are your expectations for Kevin Hart? Discuss below, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow morning for our full recap.