In this corner: Charming, charismatic, boyishly handsome Paul Rudd, a potential vampire who successfully made the transition from rom-coms to quirkier comedies long before tonight’s musical guests had anything approaching fame. In this corner: The charming, charismatic, boyishly handsome members of One Direction, a lad band with an army of tweenage fans and the power to make even curmudgeons admit that its songs sure are catchy.
Which of these two will rule the roost at Saturday Night Live tonight? The obvious answer is Rudd. He’s a veteran SNL host with two other stints under his belt already, a talented improviser who’s won membership into a number of exclusive comedic fraternities, and, oh yeah, a lead in one of winter’s biggest movies: Anchorman 2, of which you may be ignorant only if you’ve somehow stayed away from the Internet and television and movie theaters and well-traveled roads for the past few months. Given the film’s nonstop promotional campaign and the backgrounds of Rudd’s co-stars – one starred on an NBC sitcom for seven season, another was a cast member on SNL for just as long, and the third both played the first one’s best buddy on said sitcom and had a brief stint on SNL as well – it’s also almost inevitable that Rudd’s hosting gig will come complete with cameos from Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Dave Koechner. (In my dream world, Christina Applegate is there too.) A lineup like that would certainly push the night in Rudd’s favor.
But don’t discount Simon Cowell’s most successful pet project. The boys were the stealth stars of Rudd’s promos earlier this week, and they too have SNL experience. Last time they were on the show, they even threw on history’s worst wigs and fake mustaches to play a quintet of visitors to the Manuel Ortiz Show:
Plus, as anyone who’s watched 1D’s “Best Song Ever” video knows, the guys seem eager to stretch their acting muscles – and even though Harry, Niall, Liam, Zayn, and Louis aren’t hosting, SNL’s writers will in all likelihood give them a chance to show off what they can do in a sketch or two. So while Rudd is ostensibly tonight’s’ headliner, One Direction could easily emerge to be the night’s real star – especially if Rudd ends up getting overshadowed by the rest of Anchorman’s Channel 4 news team, and especially if the band’s fans are even half as loud as Justin Bieber’s were.
Either way, though, this episode should be an easy win for Saturday Night Live. It’s got everything going for it: A proven host, a buzzy musical guest, a well-rested cast just coming off of their Thanksgiving break, major cameo potential, and lots of topical sketch fodder. (Be prepared for something tasteless about Paul Walker or Nelson Mandela or both.)
Do you agree with this assessment – or are you some sort of monster who doesn’t like hilarious Clueless stars and/or dreamy British moppets? What are you hoping to see from SNL tonight? And if you had to guess, who would you say will end the night on top: Paul Rudd or One Direction? Discuss here, and check back tomorrow morning for a full recap.