When athletes host Saturday Night Live, they generally get great ratings. This happens for a couple reasons: 1. Fans love athletes and they love when they make the transition to sketch comedy well. 2. Athletes are generally not good at anything but being athletic, so when they bomb, it’s a sight to see.
Strangely, it’s much more common to come across an actor/actress with some athletic ability than it is to see an athlete prove to be funny.
Lorne Michaels has noted in the past that he thinks the athletes they choose to host SNL usually do better than actors because athletes are used to playing live and not knowing what the outcome might be. Whereas an actor is used to getting several takes and their not used to a live audience.
Either way, Eli Manning did a great job on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, with a handful of solid skits. So I thought I’d rank the top five SNL Athletes skits and see if you’ll agree.
The athletes that didn’t make the cut? LeBron James, Andy Roddick, Jeff Gordon, Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps. Some of them were good, and had decent skits, but none of them made my cut.
I would like to point out two scenes from when Derek Jeter hosted a decade back. First, there’s Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole, which was a commercial pardoy, sung to the tune of “Kokomo.”
- “That’s where I wanna go – Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole.”
- Best Derek Jeter line: “Ladies, if you bring your own tortillas, there’s no cover charge.”
In that same episode, Jeter also dressed in drag (always good for a laugh with athletes), and starred as Alfonso Soriano’s wife in the stands at Yankee Stadium with the “Yankee Wives.” Jeter even said, “Ooooh, no, Jeter does not do it for me. He looks like if The Rock had sex with a Muppet.” I pulled those two out because those were the only real funny parts in those entire skits.
Charles Barkley’s effort earlier this season was not horrible, but his best part was when he portrayed Shaquille O’Neal on “The NBA on TNT” skit, with Keenan Thompson as Chuck.
- Thompson (as Barkley): “Man, Shaq, you gotta ‘nunciate. You make me sound like Sidney Poiterrrerrr.”
I’m as shocked as you are that the Manning brothers ended up with three of the top five SNL Athletes skits. Archie Manning has the best comical bloodlines since Papa Wayans started churning out comedians.
Eli Manning “Text Message Evidence”
Athlete or not, I always got a kick out of this skit. Will Forte never cracks a smile as he’s dancing, and anytime a star athlete puts himself out there this much, with dancing or dressing in drag, you have to give it up to them.
- “Can I be real with you right now? I mean like, really really real?”
The video loads really slow and I can’t find it on Hulu, so be patient with it and enjoy!
No. 4 Tom Brady and Sexual Harassment
Granted, Brady didn’t have any great lines in this skit, but the premise is great. It’s an old film about sexual harassment, showing how to treat women and how not to treat women in the workplace. Brady proves it’s more about style over substance — by offering a welcomed tit-grab.
No. 3 Eli Manning and Motion Capture
The premise is video game developers record motion capture video of several NFL QBs and their touchdown celebrations. Eli is famous for being one of the more stoic players in the league, so he has no idea how to celebrate after a TD toss and they have to offer suggestions. Eli throwing a hand grenade made me laugh out loud, but the best was his last celebration.
No. 2 Michael Jordan and Bill Swersky’s Super Fans
This one is sort of a cheat, since Jordan is barely in this skit at all, and he has absolutely nothing funny to say. But he just happened to be the beneficiary of the best sports-related recurring skit of all-time.
- Todd O’Connor (Chris Farley): “The doc says that I got a small piece of polish sausage lodged in the lining of my heart.”
No.1 Peyton Manning and the United Way
I really don’t think someone could come to a different conclusion than to say Peyton Manning’s turn as host was the best ever by an athlete. It’s no wonder that it has been five years since he hosted – and he hasn’t come back for a sequel. How do you follow it up?
- “I can’t even look at you. You know what? Go sit in the portolet for for 30 minutes.”
- “OK, I’m sorry … Do you want to lose?’
Also, Eli’s PSA for “Little Brothers” was a great follow-up to Peyton’s skit.
Were there any athletes skits that I missed? LeBron had a couple decent ones, and Lance Armstrong doing a triathlon (but not knowing how to run), was pretty good too.
Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing more SNL Athletes Skits in the future. Some of the athletes I’d like to see host? How about Brian Wilson, Dwight Howard and Jim Brown (used to be an actor!)?
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.