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Why Hosting SNL Is Even More Terrifying Than You Think

Does anyone really think hosting "Saturday Night Live" is an easy breezy walk in the park? It's hard to imagine. But surely most wannabe hosts picture a pretty fun time up there in the spotlight. Standing in front of a live audience delivering professionally crafted jokes written just for you has to be gratifying, if only for the long-lasting reward of bragging rights that allow you to announce, "I hosted 'Saturday Night Live!'" every time you enter a room for the rest of your life.

Dreaming is one thing, however, and actually acting as host in real life is quite another, as evidenced by a recent report that one of the most qualified "Saturday Night Live" guest hosts found the experience truly "terrifying." Yes, he used exactly that word. All we need to know now is: Who said it? And what drove him to reach such a damning conclusion about this coveted gig?

He's a practiced host, so what's the problem

When people hear the name Seth Meyers today, it's usually associated with his own show, "Late Night with Seth Meyers," where he's hosted since 2014. But true fans will never forget the years he spent with "Saturday Night Live." When he joined the cast in 2001, "SNL" was his first (major) foray into television, setting aside a role on "Spin City," in an episode starring Charlie Sheen and Heather Locklear, that same year. Early on, Meyers won accolades for his impression of Senator John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election.

In 2005, Meyers was promoted to head writer at "SNL," sharing the prestigious position with Tina Fey and Andrew Steele. Since all cast members are expected to write as well as act, and pitches have to meet standards that befuddled even the likes of Will Ferrell while writing the classic "More Cowbell," Meyers was happy for a role with the show that didn't require his sketches always make the cut. "It gives me something to do rather than stew in my own juices of disappointment," he told Today. "You can actually still help the show."

As head writer, Meyers wrote, but he also helped other cast members and writers improve their work. "He really was the most generous, truly kind, helpful," Aidy Bryant said (via Variety). "I was always so impressed because Seth would read over every single writer's [and] every cast member's script on Tuesday night at like five in the morning. And just to give people like 'Oh, maybe cut this' or 'Punch this up, here's some jokes for this page.' Not everyone does that."

Guests — it turns out — don't get to be the boss

Meyers' goal when he honed jokes and tightened sketches was, of course, a great show. That included every line he and the team wrote for guest hosts on the "SNL" set. So he was surprised — and, OK, more than a little annoyed — when hosts sometimes complained about the material. "In the back of my head, all I ever thought was, 'F****** shut up and do it,'" he said. "Trust us. Just do it. We wrote it.'"

And then, in 2018, the roles were reversed. No longer head writer since leaving "SNL" in 2014, Meyers was invited back to host. Suddenly, he understood the feeling of horror at being handed jokes to read in the monologue and scripts for sketches that he didn't really like. "When the writers came into my room, I was like, 'Oh man, [being] the host is terrifying' ... I just assumed it was easy and it was a whirlwind," he said.

Meyers may not have felt completely comfortable, but he certainly appeared at ease throughout his monologue (referencing iconic moments, like when Donald Trump played his father on the show) and jumping into "Weekend Update" with Colin Jost and Michael Che to riff on Trump's meeting with Kanye West. Playing it like a pro, he delivered the comedy and reflecting on his experience, it was clear he learned a little something, too. "I felt like I had to apologize to so many hosts from my time there," he said, proving humble is an attitude that looks good on everyone.