Justin Bieber has set his sights on 30 Rock, scheduled as both host and musical guest on this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live. You’ve seen the promos, and now, with the impending snowstorm predicted to rock much of the Northeast, you have no choice but to watch. Nicely done, Scooter Braun! We will never question your relationship with the weather gods again.
By agreeing to such a demanding assignment, Bieber follows in the footsteps of Bruno Mars, who held double-duty back in October. He’s dabbled in comedy before, dating back to his first visit to Studio 8H in April 2010 when he wooed Tina Fey with promises of free Spanx, as well as documented Skype sessions with his homie, Drake, and during frequent late-night hangouts with BFF Jimmy Fallon. (I know I’m switching genres here, but it would be criminal to forget about his dramatic turn on CSI.) Personally, the newly-minted adult calls himself a “#pranksterontheloose” and has a playful sense of humor when it comes to the varying styles of denim in his closet. But how will his abilities stack up against those stars who’ve tackled both roles before? Specifically, this fellow one-time 18-year-old and her, um, magical accessories?
Maybe Britney Spears has an unfair advantage or two, but Bieber is the same age, and arguably at the same point in his career, as Ms. Oops was during her SNL debut in 2000. Being funny in an unpredictable environment is no short order for performers who are used to lengthy rehearsals and the safety net of multiple takes. But plenty have risen to the occasion! To help him prepare for tomorrow night’s show, here is a cheat-sheet the Bieb can study up on, based on some of the more successful performer-hosts of the last 15 years.
1. GARTH BROOKS
The country star hosted and performed on SNL two years in a row (more like friends in HIGH places, right?) in 1998 and 1999. Capitalizing on one of the era’s more ridiculous and irresistible recurring sketches, the black-hatted cowboy threw caution to the wind and allowed himself to be tortured by Chris Kattan’s elusive Mango and his tantalizing ways.
And we’re led to believe he liked it.
2. BRITNEY SPEARS
In 2000 Britney became the youngest star to serve as both host and musical guest, costarring alongside Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, and the couch of their fictional morning show to play the antithesis to her perpetual schoolgirl in the best way possible. Yes, I remember recording this episode on VHS back in the day and begging a teacher to play during a school trip to Philadelphia. Don’t judge me.
Brit revisited these duties in 2002 and joined the growing roster of Lorne’s beloved hosts, at the time becoming only the second to also serve as a musical guest in the show’s history.
3. JENNIFER LOPEZ
Jenny from the Block showed off her hometown accent during her first visit in 200o and tried Rihanna’s on for size on trip two back in 2010. (Pro tip for the Bieb: Don’t be afraid to hurt people’s feelings. It’s all in good fun!)
Her success at live comedy shouldn’t come as a surprise; even though she was fulfilling Fly Girl duties on In Living Color, she had to have picked up a few tips from the Wayans brothers behind the scenes. Plus, who says Anaconda wasn’t largely improvised?
Compared to other names on the list, the inclusion of one Christopher Bridges might seem off–have we forgotten his part in not one but two Oscar–nominated films already?–but watching him play the straight man to Andy Samberg reminds us to never underestimate his powers. The early Bieber supporter brought the funny during his big show in 2006, lending himself to sketches that presented his music credibility and diverse taste in a new light.
5. TAYLOR SWIFT
One advantage of throwing the reigns to the show’s musical guest is the ability to write more musical sketches that either poke fun at the star themselves, or their peers. Taylor wasn’t Les Mis-ready back in 2009 (and probably still isn’t) which is why having her sing her way through a majority of the show was a good strategy.
But she also played into her quirky, bleacher-dweller persona and allowed herself to become the subject of cheap laughs with help from a lisp and painful-looking piece of headgear.
AND OF COURSE…
6. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Practically SNL family at this point, the *N Sync star turned serious ac-tor is willing to grace the stage whenever they need him. Since freeing himself from the shackles of boy bandom, Timberlake has hosted and performed on SNL a whopping four times, popping up for the occasional digital short or impromptu dance break fairly regularly since 2003. Just remember to thank the digital short team when you successfully secure your EGOT, JT.
He’s played everyone from Ashton Kutcher to a Beyoncé wannabe, but we like him best when he’s talking about crazy, cool medallions.
Overall, guests most willing to make themselves the punchline have the highest success rate (see: Timberlake in a “Single Ladies” leotard) although this also works for acting in general (see: Jason Segel’s entire filmography).
Which leads us to wonder what Bieber hot topic will be fair game to Seth Meyers and his writing crew: Selena Gomez? Mariah Yeater? The lovely and MILF-y Pattie Mallette? His alleged love of ganja? He’s got some things to say, after all. Maybe Bieber will finally help the show get their Obama impression right? With about 36 hours to go, we’re calling for a moratorium on “belieb” and “Bieber Fever” jokes in hopes of something better. We know the snow is appealing, JB, but right now Shawty Mane should work on memorizing his lines and keeping food down.