After 35 seasons and 675 episodes it gets pretty difficult to narrow the field down to the 5 best SNL monologues. But certainly there are a few standouts, which typically involve straying from the ordinary self-deprecating (or praising) humor about the host's latest project or the fake audience Q&A. This list of best "SNL" monologues represents the hosts that took the opening spotlight one step beyond to make it truly memorable.
- Paul Simon, November 20, 1976. Anyone who was watching "SNL" in its infancy, vividly remembers the bit that tops the list of the 5 best SNL monologues. It featured Paul Simon dressed in a giant Thanksgiving turkey costume singing "Still Crazy After All These Years." A few bars in, he walked off the stage after ranting about the costume not keeping with his image and being "one of the most humiliating experiences of my life." The moment was even funnier in relation to the episode's opener where Simon had walked up to "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels backstage to complain about the yet to be identified costume. Paul interrupted Lorne's "conversation" with musical guest George Harrison who was confused by his pay for the evening. Previously Lorne had offered the Beatles $3,000 to reunite on his show, but he was explaining to Harrison that he meant $750 per person, so that's what his salary was as a solo artist, to which George replied, "It's pretty chincey."
- John Malkovich, December 6, 2008. The always quirky, typically sullen John Malkovich takes the number two spot on the list of the five best SNL monologues for his rendition of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Malkovich gathered a group of kids onstage and began reading the holiday story, but continually interrupted himself with fun facts for the kiddies. Perhaps the best one was at the point in the tale when Santa arrived and he interjected, "In Portugal they actually don’t call him Saint Nicholas, his name is Pai Natal and unless children leave him a stick of butter, he steals one of their toes. Rather terrifying."
- Steve Martin, October 23, 1976. Steve Martin has hosted fifteen times—more than any other guest in the show's history—so it only makes sense that he would have one of the 5 best SNL monologues. It was during his first turn hosting that the then relatively unknown comic delivered an opening that not only made him an "SNL" favorite, but also propelled him to comedy super stardom. Martin walked out on stage in his classic white suit and proceeded to debut a bit called "Let's Get Small." Viewers didn't know what hit them, but they loved it.
- Tina Fey, February 23, 2008. Tina Fey single-handedly revived "SNL" with her impersonation of Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the Season 34 premiere in 2008. But it was seven months earlier that she made her return to the sketch comedy stage where she was once a cast member to perform one of the best 5 SNL monologues. After a 12-week Writer's Guild of America strike had kept "SNL" off the air, Fey hosted the first show back. She began by saying that she felt badly for the crew who had been affected by the forced time off and was glad there were no hard feelings—a boom bonks her on the head. Then, when she mentioned her conflicting feelings being both a writer and a performer, the "SNL" hosting king, Steve Martin, jumped on stage to give her some advice and a few slaps across the face.
- Zach Galifianakis, March 6, 2010. It was a refreshing change of pace when Zach Galifianakis' did one of the 5 best SNL monologues in recent years, by deviating from the typical monologues of late and doing more of his normal stand-up faire. From little quips like the fact that he "Fabreezes" his beard to the lengthy list of options to describe his personal style ending with "Wolf Blitzer at burning man," Zach's unusual way of looking at life made for a successful and different opening. The best line? "If you read my blog you know that I'm a Pilates freak. And by Pilates, I mean waffles."