One of the great things about Saturday Night Live is the random pairings of host and musical guest each week. Sometimes, it makes perfect sense, like teaming up The Rock with AC/DC, or Joshua Jackson with *NSYNC. Other times, it’s a bit trickier to figure out, and we find ourselves wondering how the folks in charge of booking could ever come up with such an odd tandem. Today, let’s take a look at the latter category. Strap yourselves in folks, it’s the six weirdest host/musical guest combinations in the history of Saturday Night Live!
6. Johnny Cash/Elton John – Original Air Date: April 17, 1982
This one is already notable for having two music legends in the same show, but what’s really interesting is how short it is on sketches. Cash sings four songs, while Elton sings another two. Plus, another sketch involved Cash reciting poetry on a train. This had to be the best week to be an SNL writer; not only did you get to meet two legendary singers, you barely had to do any work!
5. Helen Hunt/Snoop Dogg – Original Air Date: March 19, 1994
Maybe I’m stereotyping a bit here, but I’m guessing the cross-section of folks who were diehard Mad About You fans and also owned a copy of Doggystyle was fairly minimal. Not to mention the 1994 version of Snoop actually scared white people (ah, what a simpler time that was). Of course, few people remember the odd lineup, as this episode’s claim to fame is Chris Farley getting tangled up in the light fixtures while doing his Bennett Brauer character. Maybe the wires “didn’t clear the lights,” ladies and gentleman! That, and the first “Buh-Bye” sketch.
4. Jon Bon Jovi/Foo Fighters – Original Air Date: October 13, 2007
Right off the bat this one is a bit odd, with noted hair-metal icon Bon Jovi appearing with a former member of Nirvana (Cobain referred to Bon Jovi as “evil” in his journals), but that’s not why this episode is here. No, the real question is why SNL even bothered booking the Foo Fighters in the first place. This episode is almost entirely Jovi-centric. Jon does the monologue, and over the course of the show, Bon Jovi plays two songs. Meanwhile, the Foos only get to do one song, and in general, they feel like a complete afterthought. If SNL wanted to do an entire episode centered around Bon Jovi, that’s their business. But I’m not sure why they even bothered getting Dave Grohl involved.
3. Nathan Lane/Metallica – Original Air Date: December 6, 1997
One of the biggest stars of Broadway, a man who is basically a walking show tune…and you team him up with Metallica?! Well, that’s certainly interesting. As odd as the lineup was, this was actually a great episode, with Lane bringing his trademark energy to every sketch, especially his monologue. The only disappointment here is that they waited until 1997 for Metallica’s only appearance on the show. Imagine how great they would have been in 1986 or ’88. But sadly, we got stuck with less-than-stellar Re-Load-era Metallica. Oh well, at least Marianne Faithful showed up.
2. Mel Gibson/Living Colour – Original Air Date: April 1, 1989
Admittedly, this one wasn’t all that odd at the time; a budding action star, and a newly famous hard rock band – what’s not to like? But 25 years later, with Gibson’s history of racist comments now quite well-known, it’s interesting to think about what conversations he might have had with Vernon Reid and Corey Glover backstage. I’m guessing he was better at hiding his, um, views back then, but in any event, there probably won’t be a reunion of this episode any time soon.
1. Steve Forbes/Rage Against The Machine – Original Airdate: April 13, 1996
For the life of me, I cannot figure how this one ever happened. Every other episode on the list either featured people from different parts of pop culture, or a host and musical guest who made each other somewhat redundant. But this just makes absolutely no sense. You book Rage Against The Machine, and then you book a Republican billionaire fresh off a presidential campaign who might be a better embodiment of The Machine than any other human being on the planet? This was headed for disaster from the start, so it was hardly surprising when Rage — in their only performance of the night — decided to protest Forbes’ appearances by hanging an inverted American flag from their amps. They were subsequently banned from the show, although it’s worth noting that Forbes was never invited back either.