Tom Hanks has hosted Saturday Night Live ten times now, if we include his April stint as host of the show for its first episode in the midst of the pandemic. In those ten times as host, Hanks has created some of the best skits and many of the show’s most enduring characters through 40 years, including David S. Pumpkins, the one-armed tennis player, and Mr. Short Term Memory. When Hanks hosts, viewers can expect that staying up until 1 a.m. to watch the show will be worth it. He’s not only one of the most prolific hosts, but one of the best.
There’s a reason for that, beyond the fact that Hanks is just naturally funny and charming, according to Conan O’Brien, who wrote for SNL from 1987 to 1991. Tom Hanks appeared as a host in all four seasons that Conan wrote, and many will say that those were probably Hanks’ best episodes, and it’s because Hanks did something that other hosts did not.
In this week’s episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend with guest Tom Hanks, Conan spelled it out. “I remembered every time that you would host, you would stay up practically the whole night with the writers. I remembered at one point walking through the conference room at night, at like 3 in the morning, and you were lying on the conference table trying to compose a sketch.”
“Every other host,” Conan said, “would dip in and dip out, and see what everyone was up to, and then go out to dinner with Lorne [Michaels], and then maybe come back for a little bit. You were alone in your dedication to making it a great show. Moreso than any other host while I was there.”
Conan described Tom Hanks — along with Bruce Springsteen — as examples of celebrities who have succeeded because they are such hard workers. For the ever-humble Hanks, however, he dismissed Conan’s flattery. “It was a great hang,” he said. “You laugh your head off when you are there, and part of it was, I couldn’t believe I was there. I wanted to soak that up. I mean, Lorne’s a fascinating guy, but after awhile, I don’t need anymore Bob Hope stories at dinner.”
Listen to the entire Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend episode with Hanks, where he talks about his new film on Apple TV+, Greyhound, and having seen both the movie and listened to this podcast, I thought the way that Hanks talks about the movie here is even more interesting than the movie itself.
Source: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend