Paul Rudd joins the Five-Timers Club this Saturday as host of Saturday Night Live, and he’s sure to add some new fan-favorite skits to his resume. Still, the fact is that he appeared in enough all-time-great sketches during his previous four appearances that it’s tough to narrow down a list of his greatest hits.
While Rudd’s greatest comedic achievement remains his decades-long tradition of setting up the wrong clip for Conan O’Brien, his versatility as a character actor, combined with classic leading man good looks and the apparent willingness to do literally anything presented to him by the writers, has made him one of the best modern SNL hosts.
Below are eight of his best SNL sketches, arranged chronologically — a list that by Sunday morning we’re sure will end up being much longer.
— Liz Shannon Miller
Senior Entertainment Editor
Kissing Family: Austin Brings His Roommate Home from College (2008)
Kissing Family sketches have been a long-standing tradition for Saturday Night Live, but Rudd appeared in the first during his inaugural hosting gig in 2008. Since then, he’s become a staple of the bit (even making guest appearances in episodes he didn’t host, as he did in 2011 and 2014). We’ll spotlight the first one as it’s fun to hear the audience come to understand the game of the bit in real time, and also because there’s some top-notch kissing in it. — L.S.M.
Everyone’s a Critic (2008)
The way this sketch escalates from a humble Titantic riff to an orgy of violence is so shocking that YouTube now has a content warning on it. But for those who can handle a lot of pixelated nudity and blood, it’s a classic digital short. And not the first or last time Rudd would team up with Samberg on this list. — L.S.M.
What’s That Name (2010)
Vince Blight (Bill Hader) hosts the game show “What’s That Name?” with contestants Jake (Rudd) and Carolynn (Vanessa Bayer), two upper-class business people who can remember the names of celebrities but not service workers, like Jake’s doorman Norman and Carolynn’s maid Mary. When eight of Jake’s unpaid interns come on stage, Hader’s character hilariously says, “If you can tell me ANY of their names, I’ll give you a million dollars.” While comically done, the simplicity of the skit reveals the social conundrum of remembering others’ names and also emphasizes the lack of appreciation around certain roles like service workers or interns. — Regina Schliep
Santa’s Workshop (2013)
While the Santa Claus we are familiar with is usually heavyset with a sweet tooth like no other, Paul Rudd’s Santa Claus is unrecognizable. In this hilarious holiday skit, Rudd surprises his elves as he reveals his 150-pound weight loss, which leaves his little helpers confused and asking, “Who let the air out of Santa?” Santa’s appearance isn’t the only thing that throws the elves off: He and Mrs. Claus are “taking a break,” no candy is allowed, he doesn’t want kids sitting on his lap, the only toys the elves are allowed to make are Easy Bake Juicers and pilates Barbie, and, perhaps worst of all, he eats reindeer! — R.S.