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The Best of Paul Rudd on Saturday Night Live

Nine reasons we can't wait to see the soon-to-be five-time host return to Studio 8H.
  • Photos: NBC
    Photos: NBC

    It's not every weekend that Saturday Night Live inducts a new host into its illustrious Five-Timer's Club. Only 22 stars have hosted the show five or more times, and this Saturday's host Paul Rudd will make it 23. Rudd first hosted in 2008, and has returned in 2010, 2013 and 2019. (He's also made cameos in 2009, 2011, 2019, and 2020.)

    The comic actor (and legendary talk show guest) has played quite a few memorable characters on SNL over the years, including a TV-loving redneck, a weird single dad, a pizza boy, and the odd son of the Vogelcheck "kissing family," but perhaps even more impressive is the sheer number of sketches in which he’s ably performed the role of a seasoned repertory player, helping to tee up standout performances from others.

    In anticipation of Paul Rudd’s landmark fifth SNL hosting gig this weekend, here are seven of our very favorite sketches from his previous appearances:

    Single Ladies
    Episode Date:
    November 15, 2008

    Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg, and Bobby Moynihan act as eccentric back-up dancers for Beyonce's "Single Ladies" music video in this classic sketch from Rudd’s very first SNL hosting stint. Beyonce plays herself while Rudd plays the director who appears to be completely oblivious to the dancers consistently going off script and doing their own moves. From his far too informal nicknames for Beyonce, like "B.K." to his justification for using male dancers in the video for a song called "Single Ladies," Rudd’s performance is a pitch perfect parody of a hack director, insisting the performance is "Bee-rilliant" when it's clearly anything but.

    What's Wrong With This Picture?
    Episode Date:
    May 18, 2019

    This recurring game show parody features different cast members and celebrities playing contestants opposite Kenan Thompson as the annoyed and frustrated host, Elliott Pants. Despite being presented with images that have obvious mistakes and being asked to identify them, the dimwitted contestants take things in ridiculously outlandish directions, giving nonsensical answers that involve their own creative (often dark) stories and interpretations. None more so than Rudd, playing the clueless Louis, who manages to make every situation more awkward and weird.

    A Journey Through Time
    Episode Date:
    May 18, 2019

    Kate McKinnon is the star of this recurring sketch that always includes three people recalling their experiences with time travel and meeting alien life forms. The celebrity guest in each installment often can't keep from giggling thanks to McKinnon's hilarious performance as a woman who seemingly had a much different experience than everyone else. While Ryan Gosling’s turn alongside McKinnon takes the cake for the funniest installment, Rudd's appearance as a mullet-wearing, Showtime-obsessed redneck is a marvel all its own. Ironically, the most extraordinary thing about it may be that Rudd was able to keep a straight face through the entire six minutes, despite McKinnon's best efforts to make him break character, which included everything from grinding on his back to straddling him, and even licking his face — all to no avail.

    Game of Thrones Tribute
    Episode Date:
    May 18, 2019

    This digital short begins with Pete Davidson rapping about Game of Thrones, the hottest show on TV, only to be called out by Kenan Thompson for clearly having never seen the show. So instead, he raps about his real favorite show: Grace and Frankie. Complete with a cameo from DJ Khaled, Rudd enters in the final minutes to sing about his favorite show which – surprise, surprise – is also the Netflix hit starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. "Yo Thrones, I got a dragon you can sit on right here," Rudd says at the end of the sketch, pointing to his groin area. It's the type of silly humor that is right up Rudd's alley, and his little bit of rapping in support of a comedy about two women in their '80s, truly ties the video together.

    What Up With That?
    Episode Date:
    March 6, 2010

    Rudd cameoed in this edition of Kenan Thompson’s signature What Up With That sketch during Zach Galifianakis' hosting gig, playing himself. Once again, he stayed completely in character, despite Galifianakis doing his best to try to make him laugh. For his own part, all Rudd needed to have viewers in stitches was a stoic face.

    In the Cage with Nicolas Cage and Paul Rudd Episode Date: May 17, 2014

    Andy Samberg plays Nicolas Cage, talking with Rudd about his (then) upcoming movie Ant-Man, expressing disdain that he wasn't cast in the role. Rudd plays the perfect straight man, but still gets laughs when he talks about seeing Cage naked in his backyard and having to "take a three-day shower" to which Samberg, as Cage, replies "that's high praise."

    Kissing Family: Austin Brings His Girlfriend Home for Christmas
    Episode Date:
    December 11, 2010

    The sketch begins simply enough with Rudd's character Austin Vogelcheck coming home for Christmas with his girlfriend Amanda, played by Vanessa Bayer. While Amanda is excited to meet the family, she is soon shocked by their extremely affectionate nature. Featuring the comedic talents of Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen as Austin's parents and Bill Hader as Austin's brother Dwight, the situation escalates as Hader fondles Rudd's breasts while they lock lips, then each family member passes gum to one another by the mouth. Once again, Rudd keeps his composure the entire time, even as the kisses get increasingly more passionate.

    Cut for Time: Retirement Party
    Episode Date:
    May 18, 2019

    The funniest part about this sketch is the fact that Rudd and Beck Bennett managed to get the rest of the cast to break character. Dressed in silver suits, the two play IT workers singing an '80s-inspired new wave robotic ode to the "comp-comp-comp-comp-comp-computer" at the retirement party of one of their co-workers. Rudd uses a stereotypical nerdy voice while Bennett can barely contain himself as Rudd fully embraces his character. It's one of the few sketches where Rudd breaks a smile for a split moment but continues to tinker with his keyboard and deliver hilarious dance moves to keep the sketch on track.

    Best Man Speech Monologue
    Episode Date:
    May 19, 2019

    It’s rare for an opening monologue to be counted among a host's best sketches, but in his most recent appearance on the show, Rudd reflected on his three prior times hosting and likened the monologue to a best man speech. He continues to talk about Saturday Night Live, glass of champagne in hand and corsage on his lapel, as if the show were a friend getting married. "You used to be a dirty dog," he jokes with some sexual innuendo. "I think about a thousand people have been on you." He goes on to discuss how the show has always been there for him. "Whenever you needed a host, I needed to promote a movie," he continues. The monologue sets the tone for a show, and this one was short, subtle, and the perfect kick-off for the show’s 45th season finale.

    Christine Persaud has been writing for close to two decades and freelancing for the last eight, with her entertainment work featured in Digital Trends, Screen Rant, Reviewed Canada, and others. Follow her on Twitter @christineTechCA.

    TOPICS: Paul Rudd, NBC, Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon