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A pitch for ‘SNL’: Make John Mulaney the permanent host

As the comedian returns to his home turf for a third time in just under two years, ‘Fast Company’ argues that he should host ‘Saturday Night Live’ every week.

A pitch for ‘SNL’: Make John Mulaney the permanent host
[Photo: courtesy of Will Heath/NBC]

When John Mulaney‘s self-titled sitcom flopped in 2014, it might have seemed like he made a mistake leaving his writing job at SNL.

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Now that Mulaney has boosted his profile as an A-list standup with a multi-special deal at Netflix and a bunch of other projects, it seems more like Saturday Night Live made a mistake by letting him go.

Of course, there is one way to rectify the situation: make John Mulaney the permanent host.

The comedian and erstwhile Spider-Ham is returning this weekend to host SNL for the third time in just under two years. He doesn’t have anything to promote, really; his adult-friendly kids special came out on Netflix back in December, just after his appearance on Apple TV Plus’s Dickinson, and the next season of Big Mouth is still far off. He’s hosting SNL this weekend because, what the hell, why not have John Mulaney host SNL this weekend? Why not have him host every weekend? He clearly likes being there, and they clearly like having him.

Sure, he’s such an in-demand touring standup that Lorne Michaels had to “send” this funny letter to the Canadians that Mulaney is jilting at a scheduled show in Toronto this weekend in order to host. If he was the resident guest every week, though, both parties could probably figure out some kind of scheduling workaround.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Saturday Night Live is a democracy, not a monarchy. Everyone with a third-tier DC superhero movie or a hot Quibi series on deck should get a turn to host! How else would we find out whether Kit Harrington has cue-card-reading chops?”

Good points, all!

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However, SNL wasn’t always intended to be the showcase for high-profile guests that we’ve all come to know and conditionally enjoy. Before the show settled into its traditional format, Lorne Michaels asked Albert Brooks if he would host every week. (Brooks said no but ended up contributing short films instead.) Trying out a permanent host now would give us a peek into the alternative universe where Michaels’s original vision became praxis.

And that alternative universe should be populated by one John Edmund Mulaney.

The case for John Mulaney as permanent host

So, why should the forever-host be him? For one thing, he knows how the show works inside and out. Mulaney served as an SNL writer for six seasons (from 2008 to 2014), during which time he made occasional Weekend Update appearances, won an Emmy for cowriting a Justin Timberlake monologue song, and cocreated Bill Hader’s signature character Stefon. He’s only the fourth former writer ever to come back as host—part of an elite group that includes Conan O’Brien, Larry David, and, well, Louis CK—and he appears to have a Moleskine full of previously rejected pitches at his disposal that he now has the clout to push through.

He also throws himself into every sketch with the gusto of a writer dying to prove he deserves the airtime, even though he no longer has to prove anything.

 

As someone who intimately understands what it takes to write funny fake commercials week after week, the fake ads on his episodes tend to be that much funnier, too.

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Also, imagine a world where every episode of Saturday Night Live starts with 7 to 12 fresh minutes of John Mulaney doing standup. That’s the kind of world I want to live and watch television (online, a day later) in!

Because his first two at-bats as host have been hits—nearly every sketch from both shows has millions of YouTube views—clearly the audience that made John Mulaney into a series of memes will keep tuning in.

The Permanent Host Project

Mulaney isn’t the only entertainer who could host the show every week. He’s just the one who makes the most sense for the initial launch of the Permanent Host Project. It wouldn’t even have to be him every week, either! Eddie Murphy and Melissa McCarthy would certainly be welcome to pop back in and host any time that Mulaney needed a week off to recharge his batteries or finish filming the Cinderella update that Kay Cannon is currently directing.

The point is that, as we are all about to witness this weekend, with Mulaney at the helm, the average episode of SNL would be elevated on every level.

Please, Michaels and Mulaney, make this happen. We need it.

Also, if at all possible, please take whatever Democratic debate sketch is planned for this week’s cold open and gently place it in the nearest pile of garbage.

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