Don Cheadle is hosting Saturday Night Live this week, and the actor has been a fan of the show for a long time.
Cheadle sat down with SNL producers to list off his favorite skits from the shows 44 year tenure. The actor was born in 1964, so he grew up with SNL and saw it rise from a humble variety show to the longest-lasting institution in American comedy.
Cheadle understands that legacy, and respects the honor of hosting the show. His list of favorites is far-reaching, with selections from the earliest days of the show all the way up to the early-2000s. Cheadle is a huge star in his own right, yet it is clear that he has never stopped paying attention to what the beloved comedy series is up to.
Cheadle is hosting SNL this week to promote two projects. Of course, most fans are impatient to see him back in his War Machine armor this spring for Marvel's Avengers: Endgame. He also has a new series on Showtime titled Black Monday, which is set in the dog-eat-dog world of Wall Street in the 1980s.
A star like Cheadle does not necessarily need an occasion to host SNL. His natural charisma and star power will pair perfectly with the show's storied history, and he made it clear that is exactly why he loves it. Here is a look at Cheadle's top five favorite skits from Saturday Night Live.
Cheadle's first pick is a skit from SNL's very first season. In 1975, Richard Pryor played a man interviewing for a janitorial job with Chevy Chase. In it, Chase gives him a word-association test, listing progressively more and more offensive racial slurs. In response, Pryor calls out insults to white people, culminating in Chase saying the N-word.
"Dead Honky," Pryor replies darkly. He gets the job.
"If you haven't seen it, please watch it," Cheadle said. "It's ground-breaking TV."
Chuckling, Cheadle also remembered a 1978 skit where Dan Aykroyd played Julia Child. The actor sprayed fake blood all over the set, including on the food he was working on.
"Never have you seen anyone bleed this profusely," Cheadle said. "It's the first time I think they ever did this kind of gag, so it's fantastic."
"Eddie Murphy, James Brown, Hot Tub," Cheadle said. "I mean, Eddie Murphy, James Brown, what else do you need?"
The skit in question aired during Season 9 in 1983, and featured Murphy tentatively circling a hot tub on stage. It aired in 1983 during Season 9 of the show.
Cheadle also noted a 1999 skit when Jerry Seinfeld hosted, and he and Will Ferrell broke character during an absurd physical skit.
"I love them breaking at the end, but the whole thing is just bananas, and hilarious," he said.
The skit is from Season 25 of SNL.
Finally, Cheadle shouted out the 1990 skit where Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze faced off in a mock Chippendales competition, slowly disrobing as they danced on stage. As far as Cheadle is concerned, "Chris Farley actually won."
The skit aired in SNL's 16th Season.
Cheadle is in the perfect generation for SNL fandom. Born in 1964, he likely grew up with the original cast as a young man, watching Chevy Chase, Dayn Aykroyd, John Belushi and Laraine Newman, among others. He then would have been a young adult in the prime of his own career when cast members like Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo took over.
Cheadle may not have hosted SNL before, but he has worked with some of the shows most iconic cast members. This includes Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin in a classic appearance on 30 Rock. In it, Cheadle played himself in an ad for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He had been paid $10 million for the screentime by Jack (Baldwin,) but that didn't stop him from choking back bile as he read the script.
Cheadle got an early start as SNL host, starring in a skit that served as a promo for his episode. The short tease featured Cheadle and Alex Moffat as buddy cops in a classic 1970s movie set-up, with lots of physical gags and fourth wall breaking.
Cheadle takes the stage officially tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.