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July 5, 2015

Why are athletes so much funnier than other SNL hosts?

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 26th 2007 4:03PM
Peyton Manning teaching kids on SNLAnnie's review of last Saturday's SNL pretty much encapsulated how I felt about it; it was above average, especially if you understood some of the jokes directed at guest host Peyton Manning. Since I'm a football fan, that was no problem; the NCAA sketch where the studio guys kept saying certain players "pulled a Peyton Manning" was funny to me because, until he won the Super Bowl last month, Peyton had a bit of a choker's reputation.

Anyway, the funniest bit of the entire episode was the phony United Way PSA, showing Manning "helping" a bunch of kids. Even watching it today on NBC.com, I couldn't help but laugh when Peyton not only checks the play at the line of scrimmage, like he does on every play he runs in the pros, but then he whips the ball at his receivers, whether they're ready or not. When he knocks them over, he calls them "losers;" he's so angry at one kid, he banishes the boy to a Port-O-Let so he can think about the error of his ways.

Also funny: Peyton showing the kids how to break into a car, especially when he hears a siren. "Cops!" he yells before everyone scatters, and telling another kid to "get the fuck out of here" after berating him for not catching the ball.

Why am I singling this sketch out? Because it shows the comedic skills that Peyton's shown on the three kajillion TV commercials he's done during his career (as I cited once before, not many sports stars would be in an ad chanting "Cut That Meat!"). It's actually pretty unusual for an athlete to show these kind of skills; of all the sports stars that have guest hosted on SNL, Peyton is right up there near the top. Makes me think the guy has an acting career ahead of him after he retires, if he chooses to do so.

Anyway, what does it say about the hosts that the show has picked that athletes like Manning, Derek Jeter, and Tom Brady have done a better job than actors like Robert DeNiro (one of the most painful SNL episodes I've ever seen, and I'm a DeNiro devotee) and Forest Whitaker? I've got my theories, but I'm curious to hear yours. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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