SNL Recap: Eli Manning Plays a Boy’s Game

For this Splitsider recap of last weekend’s SNL episode, I argue how host Eli Manning’s performance exemplified a tendency for a “bro mentality” whenever athletes come to the show.


“Many athlete hosts have proven to be quick on their feet and natural showmen — skills that benefitted Derek Jeter and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tremendously. There have also been a few disasters: swimmer Michael Phelps seemed much more slow and clumsy on land, and there was that one awkward episode in 1978 where O.J. Simpson tried to murder Laraine Newman.

Athlete hosts present fascinating insights into masculinity. They seem to be game for any character or situation that is asked of them, yet they do so with a surprising level of self-awareness. I am reminded of the famous “Big Bernard” sketch, in which Tracy Morgan spanked 7-foot-1 Shaquille O’Neal, while Shaq mugged and made faces at the audience. It was as if he was anticipating his return to the Lakers locker room and wanted to prove to the other guys that he was “above” the pettiness of the scene. Notice also the tendency for athlete hosts to don drag — Derek Jeter as a Yankee wife, Charles Barkley as a coming-out lesbian, and now Eli Manning as a spurned runner up in a drag queen pageant. It’s the same kind of “bro mentality” behind jocks dancing around in wigs at a pep rally or pledges being forced into training bras in a frat house basement. To jocks, comedy is a queer distraction for boys to prove their manhood, and not a serious pursuit for real men.”

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About eavoss
Erik Voss is a writer, actor and improv comedian in Los Angeles. Please subscribe!

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