Adam Levine Dishes Up Deep Deadpan As ‘SNL’ Host
Adam Levine is among the very select group of singers who've hosted Saturday Night Live without also singing—the last example of which was Katy Perry in 2011. Levine had a good excuse for taking the night off as a musician: Maroon 5 was the musical guest just two and a half months ago. But never let it be said he's not a workhorse; Kendrick Lamar's two performance slots represented just about the only post-cold-opening bits in which Levine wasn't being trotted out on screen.
We all know Levine has moves like Jagger, figuratively speaking. But does he also have moves like Justin—as in singer-turned-funnyman Timberlake ? Or like Bruno Mars, who just about set a new gold standard when he hosted SNL (and got huge ratings) in October?
Levine's hosting gig probably won't be as well-remembered as Mars', if only because he went less for mugging and more for the deadpan, which leaves less of a lasting impression. But Levine evidenced even better acting chops than Mars, even if he was mostly playing the straight man—a role that proves he has moves like Dean Martin, to Bill Hader's Jerry Lewis.
The hour-and-a-half's high point was a fairly riotous digital sketch from Samberg's Lonely Planet crew—a theme song for the web meme "YOLO," which took the acronym for "You only live once" not as a reason for fearlessness but as a jumping-off point to urge young people to be paranoid about every tiny threat life might present. The rapped advice from Sandberg, Kendrick Lamar, and company ranged from the sensible ("Don’t take drugs cause they’re not legal/And bury all your money in the backyard like a beagle") to the most delightfully nonsensical of frightened non sequiturs ("Two words about furniture: killing machines"). It was up to the host, of course, to interrupt the rapping with a recurring musical hook ("Don't trust anyone... You Oughta Look Out"). Adam Levine, chastity-belt advocate—who knew?
There should probably be an Emmy category for Ability To Maintain A Straight Face During An Effeminate Bill Hader Tirade (which Hader himself would lose, based on his serial near-crackups doing Steffan on "Weekend Update"). Levine would be in the running for that award after admirably keeping his cool during the particularly inspired "Firehouse Incident" sketch, in which Hader played a volunteer fireman driven to almost literal drama-queen extremes by the sight of an ex-girlfriend at a fundraiser. "Hello, Judas!" Hader bellowed (in a particularly prissy way) to Levine, whose refusal to flinch merits inflappability props.
Levine got his own chance at some of those mannerisms as co-host of a Gay Network series, wearing a ponytailed, floppy-banged blonde wig and affecting a Southern accent while dishing out advice to straight guests who are all inevitably accused of being closet cases. Going flamboyantly gay can be an overly easy way to laughs for SNL hosts, but Levine had a particularly deft way of dropping lines like "What are your children’s names—Van Dyke and Goatee?—because those babies are beards!" that made him seem right at home alongside Hader.