This week, Ben Stiller returns to the SNL studio for his first hosting stint since 1998. Many people, including myself, questioned whether Stiller would ever appear on the show again after pulling out as host in 2001.
In the book “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live”, producer Marci Klein explains that Stiller was booked to host one of the first few episodes in the 2001-2002 season. Following the September 11th attacks, Klein asked Stiller, a former cast member and New York City resident, if he could instead host the season premiere and try to help the show get back into the business of making America laugh again. Stiller declined and also pulled out of his scheduled hosting stint, claiming he ‘wasn’t sure how to be funny at a time like this.’ Then, Stiller moved up the premiere of his new film Zoolander and went on a nationwide press tour, which Klein believed was the real reason for his declining the SNL appearance. There seemed to be a silent ban on Stiller appearing on the show until his cameo appearance in last season’s Robert DeNiro episode. Coincidentally, as of last season, Marci Klein no longer books hosts for SNL (her title has changed to Consulting Producer).
Stiller was briefly a cast member in 1988, and I’m a huge fan of hosts that are former cast members. Coupled with the fact that his 1998 appearance as host was terrific, I think we’re in for a good show, provided the writers don’t drop the ball. Again.
Also rumored this week, a surprise appearance by Stiller’s Tower Heist co-star Eddie Murphy, who has not appeared on SNL in over 25 years due to his own presumed feud with SNL producers and David Spade (Google the details). While I would love to see a Murphy appearance, I don’t want it to be tonight. I think Ben Stiller deserves to host his own show, and a Murphy cameo would absolutely trump the night. I’m talking a 1 minute standing ovation for the live show, and the web would only be talking about Murphy’s surprise appearance and not any decent sketches that may or may not come out of the show. Plus, I’m guessing the cameo would come after a Jay Pharaoh impression of Murphy (a “sneaker-upper,” as mentioned in Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”). Not incredibly creative.
Foster the People are tonight’s musical guest. Their hit single “Pumped Up Kicks” has earned them national attention. Google the lyrics to that. Seriously, how is that song a hit? (I like the song but, seriously… how’d they do that?)
SKETCH PREDICTIONS: -Though SNL doesn’t have a direct tie to Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t be surprised if they jumped on the bandwagon of Jobs’ tributes. -Stiller’s big impression on the show was Tom Cruise. I imagine it will be utilized. -After a week without a political sketch, I think we’re almost guaranteed one this week. There’s plenty to choose from: Rick Perry’s ranch, Sarah Palin’s announcement to not run for President, the Occupy Wall Street movement. Take your pick, writers!