Justin Timberlake brought the laughs back to Saturday Night Live.
The multi-hyphenate entertainer returned to host the sketch comedy TV program for the fifth time—his third as both host and musical performer—and was joined by some very special guests.
The 32-year-old singer-cum-actor’s opening monologue was a sketch introducing him into the ‘Five-Timers Club,’ an exclusive club of hosts. After being serenaded by an acoustic guitar-strumming Paul Simon, Timberlake was greeted by a coterie of other five-time hosts, including Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, and Candice Bergen—all clad in velvet robes with a ‘5’ emblazoned on them. One-time host and original SNL cast member Dan Aykroyd, meanwhile, served as the club’s bartender, while Martin Short handed out hors d'oeuvres. The sketch was a reimagining of a similar one that Tom Hanks did back in 1990 when he reached the five-time host milestone.
Timberlake, who won Emmy Awards for hosting the show in 2009 and 2011, and has had a hand in crafting classic SNL sketches like “Dick in a Box” and “Motherlover,” brought back many familiar characters. He was joined by his frequent SNL Digital Short co-conspirator, former cast member Andy Samberg—in their bearded, bespectacled “Dick in a Box” garb—for the game show “It’s A Date,” hosted by Bill Hader. But in a surprise twist, the duo was flanked by Aykroyd and Martin reprising their roles as the Festrunk Brothers—you know, the two “wild and crazy” guys.
Later on, Timberlake brought back his hyper-enthusiastic billboard character. This time, he was touting ‘Veganville,’ and butted heads with Bobby Moynihan, who was pimping ‘Sausage Depot.’ Timberlake sang parodies of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (…in a meatless place), as well as a twist on the “Harlem Shake” (“Drink a vegan shake!”).
Earlier on during the show’s cold open, Timberlake took a few polite jabs at the recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Dressed as Elton John, Timberlake performed a rendition of his “Candle in the Wind” at a mock-memorial for the former socialist leader, which included lines like “You said the U.S. causes earthquakes and you outlawed Coke Zero, and on your shoulder sat your parrot with a matching red beret,” as well as another dig at how Chavez helped make Venezuela the “kidnapping capital” of the world.
For his musical performance, the crooner was joined by backing band the Tennessee Kids, and started off with his single “Suit and Tie” off his upcoming album The 20/20 Experience. He was joined by rapper Jay-Z, who raps on the tune. But Timberlake may have taken a slight dig at Kanye West, who recently dissed the song in a rant during a show in London, saying, “And I got love for Hov but I ain't f--king with that 'Suit & Tie'.” As payback, Timberlake changed the line “s--t so sick / Got a hit and picked up a habit” to “My hits so sick / Got rappers acting dramatic.” Your move, ‘Ye.
He returned later to perform his song “Mirrors,” and was introduced by Chase, Martin, and Short as the Three Amigos—which was amazing.
It was, without question, the best SNL episode of the season.
Even Alec Baldwin, arguably the greatest host in the program’s history, was won over, tweeting: “Justin was good, wasn’t he? @JTimberlake #hesgotitall.”