Aziz Ansari, Eddie Murphy & John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live. Courtesy of NBC.

The Best Of Saturday Night Live's Stand-Up Monologues

Aziz Ansari, Eddie Murphy & John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live. Courtesy of NBC.
Aziz Ansari, Eddie Murphy & John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live. Courtesy of NBC.

Since the very beginning in 1975, Saturday Night Live has become known for many things. The show has changed in many ways over the years, but one of the things that has stayed exactly the same from day one is the host’s monologue.

George Carlin was the first host way back in 1975. Since then, the show has featured hosts from all walks of life, including actors, actresses, musicians, sports figures, filmmakers, politicians, and even the occasional mogul. But nobody it seems can nail that opening monologue quite like a comedian.

In honor of the show’s 49th season kicking off tomorrow, we figured we’d take a look back at some of our favorite comics and their monologues from over the years. 

Dave Chappelle

The grip that Dave Chappelle has when he goes on to host SNL is unlike most comedians when it comes to his power & influence. After hosting the post-presidential election episode in 2016 & hosting the show again post-election in 2020, he hosted in 2022 following the 2022 midterm elections (we wouldn’t be surprised if this is a tradition SNL tries to keep going for years to come).

In this monologue, he walks out to different intro music versus what the house band normally plays (they cut early and go into the election intro music, rarely done in the show’s history). Something that’s even rarer…he managed to have the whole studio and country watch what he had to say on that stage for 15 minutes straight, which is an unbelievable feat. Hardly anyone can make someone laugh & think the way Chappelle can. 

Adam Sandler

It took Adam Sandler 24 years after leaving the show before he finally returned in 1999. During his monologue, he acknowledged the elephant in the room: the fact that he was hosting the show that fired him all those years before. Chris Rock even joined in to lament how the show also kicked him to the curb.

Bill Burr

“And speaking of dreams coming true, did you see Rick Morranis got sucker punched on the Upper West Side?” This is how Bill Burr leads into jokes about cancel culture, white women hijacking the woke movement, and pride month. Yes, there are some hisses from the audience, but Burr stares them down and digs himself hilariously deeper.

Kevin Hart

There’s a reason Kevin Hart is so successful, and it’s on full display here in his monologue. Combining act outs, great, vivid jokes, and his unmistakable salesman-esque delivery, Hart kills on the stage like only he can, be it in an arena or small venue like Studio 8H.

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer has proven to be a reliable host for SNL since her first hosting gig in 2015. In her 2022 monologue, she talked about having a good sex life, giving pregnant women advice, and her husband having Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Jerrod Carmichael

Jerrod Carmichael hosted the first show after the infamous Oscars slap that took place between Will Smith and Chris Rock. In his monologue, Carmichael took the opportunity to make it clear that he wasn’t going to talk about it. Never mentioning the incident by name, the crowd clearly knew what he was talking about. 

George Carlin

The one that started it all. George Carlin opted not to perform in any sketches on the inaugural show. Instead, he performed four monologues. In the first monologue, he did his infamous baseball versus football routine that compared the two sports. 

Larry David

Larry David was a writer for the show briefly in the 80’s, leaving after he didn’t get much on the show in that year. During his second time returning to host, he talks about living in New York, having a blind boss, not liking it when Jewish men are in the headlines for bad reasons, and what it would’ve been like if he was in Poland during World War II. 

John Mulaney

John Mulaney has gone from being a veteran writer of the show to being a veteran host. He’s already joined the five timers club. In his monologue, he talks about interactions in New York, his mom wanting him to ask his then-wife to convert to Catholicism, Woody Allen being confused by his wife pushing their dog in the stroller, police car siren, and the subway announcer.

Louis C.K.

The way Louis C.K. went into this monologue talking about racism in the 70s and the town child molester was like walking into a minefield. His career could’ve easily ended here, but the way he was dodging all these controversial things he certainly knew he was walking into make this one of the boldest stand-up monologues in SNL history. He truly is such a pro!

Chris Rock

“James Baldwin said not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.” This is how Chris Rock ends his pandemic monologue. Prior to this, he takes the temperature of the culture as only he can, dunking on the presidency, Congress, political parties, and, of course, Donald Trump. It was the monologue we needed at a time of crisis, and only Rock could deliver it. 

Aziz Ansari

This was a momentous monologue for Aziz Ansari given that this episode aired the day after President Trump’s inauguration in early 2017 (also the same day as the 2017 Women’s Protest March - what a doozy). Like Chappelle, Aziz is another example of a comic who can perfectly convey their opposition to something or someone without kicking the sand in their face. The subtle delivery and deep messaging Ansari manages to fit into his act is unmatched. 

Eddie Murphy

35 years after leaving the show, the impossible happened: Eddie Murphy returned to Saturday Night Live. The long-awaited homecoming was kicked off with a monologue that was fitting for the occasion. After making jokes about Bill Cosby and Kevin Hart, Murphy welcomed Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Kenan Thompson to start the show off with a bang.

David Spade

There’s an incredible mix of steep irony and silly act outs that make David Spade such an interesting comic to watch. Here, he delivers two jokes brimming with both. One bit focuses on possibly high guys getting attacked by polar bears because they thought the bears were waving at them. The other is a runthrough of every Cops scenario, with Spade showcasing his knack for descriptive comedy that doesn’t get lost in minutiae.

Zach Galifianiakis

“Stop clapping. STOP CLAPPING!!!” Zach Galifianakis exclaims as he begins his monologue. From there, he goes into his brutally honest routine of how he preps his look with the SNL stylist to host (a lot of options were out including the “Homeless Professor”) and then smoothly transitions to the piano for monologue of song pointing out his hilarious point of view black & white differences of things (while we thought he was opening for Miles Davis in Canada, he was actually opening for Kilometers Davis). Overall, so timeless & brilliant!

Norm MacDonald

Norm MacDonald was another alumni who was invited back after being unceremoniously fired. And he took the opportunity to mock the fact that he went from being so bad that they wouldn’t even let him in the building to hosting the show. “I haven’t gotten funnier. The show has gotten really bad.” 

Jerry Seinfeld

After walking out to a cheering crowd, Jerry Seinfeld runs through a typical day in his New York life, which consists primarily of watching television. He ends his set by briefly mentioning he dated a couple of married women, a reference to the then-controversial way he met future wife, Jessica.

RELATED: Stream & download Jerry Seinfeld's comedy album, 23 Hours To Kill, on 800 Pound Gorilla.

Steve Martin & Martin Short

Before there was Charles-Haden Savage & Oliver Putnam, we had two of the biggest OGs in SNL’s rich history. Steve Martin started on SNL as a host in 1976 and then went on to host 15 more times. Martin Short was a cast member for only the 10th season (1984-1985) and later went on to host 4 times (both hosting reps include their co-hosting spots).

Watch here as they relentlessly roast each other with their eulogies they wrote for each other in this heartwarming and just straight entertaining monologue. Two top dogs of comedy right here! 

Seth Meyers

Watching Seth Meyers return to his stomping grounds for this episode really brings out the family energy in the room. It's like the cast & crew see Seth and go “Look, Dad’s Home!” The comedian & now late night host was a cast member for 13 seasons, 2001-2014, and served as head writer for 8 of those seasons from 2006. It’s great to see this energy be brought into the staple of a program he’s built over down the hall from 8H at Late Night.


While comedy legend, Sinbad, was making his rise through the comedy ranks in the 90s through his HBO specials, the comic laid it out on the stage here to share some issues with the movie Dracula and breaks them down with such enthusiasm in this monologue.

Ray Romano

It’s easy to overlook how gently cruel and self-aware Ray Romano’s stand-up can be. Here, he runs through a scenario involving trying to buy adult films from his hotel tv that includes an imagined phone call to the front desk that asks for an autograph for “Nana” before he can ask for his porn to be unblocked.

Bernie Mac

With his trademark smooth delivery, Bernie Mac discusses keeping an eye on everyone. Starting with the government advising everyone to lookout for “suspicious activity,” Mac walks us through watching an old white woman on an elevator, keeping a distance from strangers, and bringing a hammer onto the plane just in case. It’s paranoid comedy in an age of paranoia, and Mac’s grace and finesse make it work beautifully.

Bob Newhart

In a past life, Bob Newhart was surely a magician. Not only is his timing perfect, but he manages to make room for something resembling patter in this routine about an Empire State Building night guard calling his boss about King Kong. Watch and marvel as Newhart makes room for words like “requisition,” and phrases like “ I was going to take the elevator up to his head, sir, but, see, my jurisdiction only extends to his navel.”

RELATED: Stream & download Bob Newhart's special, Off The Record, on 800 Pound Gorilla.

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