SNL Season 34: The Top Five Guest Hosts
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SNL Season 34: The Top Five Guest Hosts

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Anne Hathaway

Comedy hasn't been a big part of Anne Hathaway's film repertoire, so it was hard to know what to expect from her appearance back in early October. The Rachel Getting Married star quickly proved herself to be not just an adequate host, but a very talented one. She demonstrated an ability to sing in the wildly off-kilter Lawrence Welk sketch (see above) and we think we prefer her saucy take on Mary Poppins ("Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a disease of the liver, which is passed between grown-ups!") to the Julie Andrews original.
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Neil Patrick Harris

The Neil Patrick Harris episode got a lot of attention around these parts because of the "Save Broadway" skit, although that was mostly due to its inside-baseball subject and the fact that a lot of silly costumes were involved. There was a lot of better stuff, and while Harris didn't get all the best lines, he was a contributor in several excellent bits: Frost/Other People, "Penelope" (featuring Liza Minnelli and a tomato), and the superb "Whopper Virgins" parody. It's these kind of solid shows, featuring comic pros who can nail a number of different roles, that make you wish stunt hosts like Michael Phelps didn't get such high ratings. Maybe they could start doing a ghostwriter thing, like "Hosted by Michael Phelps with Neil Patrick Harris."
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Paul Rudd

Rudd's episode got a lot of attention for how many of its sketches involved men having sex with each other, which was indeed a little perplexing, but it was the unexpectedly demented twists to the best bits that made the show memorable. Most notable was the digital short in which Andy Samberg and Rudd paint each other in the nude, which cruised effectively along with a Ferrell/Farley "overinflated sense of one's own sex appeal" conceit until Samberg convinced Rudd to show his work at an auction where, when the painting was unveiled, everyone in the room started screaming and trying to kill themselves in elaborate ways like in the trailer for The Happening.
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Jon Hamm

When Jon Hamm -- star of cable's critically loved, ratings-deficient Mad Men -- arrived to host October 25's episode, it was tacitly understood he'd have to work hard to win over an audience that had probably never heard of him. Even so, who could possibly have imagined he'd be eating lunch meat from a toilet-paper dispenser in a commercial for Jon Hamm's John Ham ("the ham you can eat in the bathroom")?
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Josh Brolin

For our money, the episode that Josh Brolin hosted back on October 18, 2008 was the single greatest episode of the season. And not just because it featured a slew of surprise guests (Sarah Palin, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg): In this episode, Brolin demonstrated that his comedic abilities are on par with his highly lauded dramatic sensibilities. From his outstanding work in "Fart Face" to his knee-slappingly hilarious portrayal of an uptight business manager who only wants his subordinates to enjoy the fall foliage with him ("Buttery golds!"), we're hoping Lorne Michaels puts Brolin on the fast track to the exclusive Five-Timers Club.

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