In his memoir, A Very Punchable Face, released last month, SNL’s “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost joked that one of the questions he’s asked the most is, “Who is the worst SNL host?” It is not a question he answers in the book, nor is it one he will answer to strangers. There is a lot of SNL lore about who the all-time worst host is, however, and a number of names have been bandied about over the years, including Milton Berle, Justin Bieber (according to Bill Hader), Paris Hilton, Chevy Chase, and — of course — Donald Trump.
But the name most associated with worst host ever on SNL is always invariably Steven Seagal, who hosted in April 1991, and who Lorne Michaels himself once said was the worst host ever on the sketch show. Lorne Michaels described the week in which Seagal hosted as “just a really hard week.” Apparently, Seagal ignored the cue cards and made up his own monologue. The episode was so bad that Seagal was reportedly banned from ever appearing on the show again.
Former SNL cast member David Spade was at SNL when Seagal hosted, and on this week’s episode of Rob Lowe’s Literally! podcast, Spade both conceded that Seagal was terrible, but also slightly defended the ’80s and ’90s action star.
“I have to defend him a little bit,” Spade told Lowe in the podcast. “I think maybe his one-inch ponytail was a little too tight that night. He was friendly to me. The only thing he did, is that he tightened up that night, which is what a lot of hosts do. ” He continued:
“You have to sort of trust these 30 people you don’t know,” Spade continued. “A lot of people think we’re there to make fun of them. But if we’re getting you on the show to host, we all want it to work. And if you make fun of yourself — this is where it gets tricky — it will benefit you. And we promise you. And if you don’t, and if you fight it too much — that was [Seagal]. He was too cool and he had his image [to maintain]. He couldn’t be relatable. He wouldn’t do kung-fu fighting as a cold open, or a monologue.
“We had something [in the monologue] where he throws in kicks or something, and it would have been amazing. And I think we walked up and get kicked and fall down. He said he would do it, but he just ‘talked it.’ He wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t play at all, and then in the other sketches, he was fighting us.
“A lot of [hosts], you have to go through their people when you just want to grab someone and say, ‘Hey, what about this idea?’ And some people [like Seagal] still make you go through their people.”
In other words, it sounds like, Steven Seagal took himself too seriously to appear on a sketch show and make fun of himself, so instead of playing along and mocking himself, he fought against the writing, both before the show and during. Ultimately, that’s what made him even worse than Paris Hilton, who was at least willing to make fun of herself, just not fully capable of executing it.
Source: Literally! with Rob Lowe