Ever since the very first episode of Saturday Night Live there has been “Weekend Update.” The segment lampoons the nightly news by giving satirical commentary on newsworthy events from the week. Throughout the history of the show, it has always been a reliable sketch, plopped right in the middle of each broadcast. Whether they’re mocking Donald Trump like they do so often these days or having ridiculous guests on to share their thoughts, it’s always hilarious. And, just like any good news broadcast, it’s benefitted from different anchors at the helm throughout the show’s 43-year run.
There’s a science to a perfect Weekend Update host. Some have nailed it, some have totally failed, and some are so forgettable you won’t remember their tenure until you read this list. There have even been some headcount changes with a few duos taking over anchoring duties together. But all have one thing in common: a place in the history books as a part of SNL that’s been around for every single episode. Here is the definitive ranking of every “Weekend Update” host, from worst to first!
19. Charles Rocket, 1980-1981
The early ’80s were a weird time for the show. After SNL’s fifth season, showrunner Lorne Michaels left the show to pursue other things. And his replacements were not totally up to the task. Lorne eventually came back in 1985, but in the intervening years, the show was wildly uneven. So it’s not totally Rocket’s fault that his tenure as “Weekend Update” anchor was a forgettable mess. Fun fact: Rocket was a one-time real news anchor, which helped him take over the faux role. He never really found his groove, though, and didn’t get much time to either after he was fired for saying the F-word on-air.
18. Christopher Guest, 1984-1985
Guest was a weird choice as an SNL cast member to begin with. This entire season was comprised of comedy stars who had already, for the most part, made it and not the unknown comedians the show had previously employed. But here’s the irony: Guest was completely unfunny in this role. He was boring, droll, and totally forgettable as an anchor. His lack of charisma and comfort behind the desk made the faux-news segment seem a little too “newsy” and monotonous. This season was ended early due to low ratings and it was almost the very last season until NBC convinced Lorne Michaels to come back home. He did, and he swiftly fired Guest.
17. Brad Hall, 1982-1984
Another forgettable remnant of the early ’80s “Weekend Update.” Hall’s tenure as an anchor saw a starkly different Update than fans are used to. The show barely covered the 1984 election, meaning “Weekend Update” was quite light on political humor. Can you even imagine the show today not covering Trump?! But at the time, the show was erring on the side of caution and leaning farther into sophomoric humor. Which is exactly what Hall’s Update was like: A little childish and silly, and pandering to easy humor to get by. He was replaced at the end of the 1984 season by rotating “Weekend Update” hosts, which led into Guest’s turn at the desk.
16. Colin Quinn, 1998-2000
Quinn wasn’t a horrible “Weekend Update” host, he really wasn’t. But he followed Norm McDonald, who was incredible and a bit higher up on this list. So naturally, his time at the desk had a lot to live up to. He was, unfortunately, set up to fail. Sure he had some great political fodder during his time on-air, including the Monica Lewsinky scandal. But he had a hard time finding his voice and his jokes were often very hit-or-miss. This is one Update host that was overshadowed by who he was replacing and therefore was completely forgettable himself.
15. Kevin Nealon, 1991-1995
Nealon is a hilarious comedian, but the “Weekend Update” desk wasn’t a perfect fit for him. His offbeat humor was really funny on the show, especially when he had Update guests to play off of. But he wasn’t great solo at the desk. And he was kind of the worst at reading the teleprompter. After doing it for four years, he had some high points as an anchor. But overall his run was too uneven to be great.
14. Brian Doyle-Murray, 1981-1982
“Weekend Update” in the ’80s was all terrible. Doyle-Murray, brother of Bill Murray, wasn’t quite his brother when it came to comedy. His time behind the desk — for the then-renamed “SNL NewsBreak” — was just fine. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t supremely memorable either. Except for one little bit of news he had to report: the death of former SNL star John Belushi. His time as an anchor will forever be remembered for his tact and importance at that moment. But other than that, he was a middling faux anchor.
13. Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong, 2013-2014
Seth was an old pro at “Weekend Update” by this point. He had done it alone, and with a co-anchor, and his time on SNL was coming to a close. So for his final season, he was paired with an SNL up-and-comer, Strong, in an attempt to pass the torch to her when he left. But it didn’t quite work out that way. They never had a palpable chemistry on-screen, despite both being likable enough. Cecily shines most when she’s doing out-there characters or being physical, and her time at the desk felt too restraining to be fully funny. Seth left mid-season and sent Cecily off on her own to mixed results.
12. Cecily Strong and Colin Jost, 2014
After Meyers left, it was clear Cecily wouldn’t be comfortable up there alone so she was paired with longtime SNL writer Colin Jost. There was a benefit in Cecily not being paired with a “Weekend Update” legend any longer, but her stint still fell flat. She anchored throughout the rest of the season but didn’t continue from there. Jost, on the other hand, caught on easily and did well, all things considered. When Cecily left the update desk at the end of that season, Jost stayed on and continues to anchor to this day.
11. Jane Curtin and Bill Murray, 1978-1980
These two had incredibly different anchoring styles: Curtin was straight anchoring, Murray was being a ham. But together it worked and provided some of the most memorable segments of “Weekend Update” history. This was the era of a myriad of hilarious Update guests, including Gilda Radner’s “Roseanne Roseannadanna.” Plus — you had two of the biggest comedy stars in the world at the time riffing off each other every week. It doesn’t get much better than that.
10. Colin Jost and Michael Che, 2015-current
The current “Weekend Update” hosts are firmly in-the-middle as far as anchor rankings go. While the two are both funny, they often land jokes unevenly or go a little soft on the news of today. But on the other hand, their opposite life experiences — Jost is white and WASP-y, Che is black and worldly — complements their humor nicely, especially when they bounce those differences off one another. The two have found a stride with each other, despite some hit-or-miss jokes, so who knows how history will view them after they’re no longer behind the desk!
9. Jane Curtin, 1976-1977
Curtin is one of the few “Weekend Update” hosts to anchor alone and with a partner and hold her own each way. As the second anchor of all time, she was able to make it her own without any lofty expectations. She was also the very first woman anchor, and for that, she’ll always be one of the greats. During the misogynistic ’70s, she took charge of the desk and was never afraid to make the men around her look stupid. One of her most memorable “Weekend Update” lines celebrates just that. In the segment she says,
“There’s an old saying, behind every successful man, there’s a woman — a loving, giving, caring woman. But, you wouldn’t know about that Dan, because there’s no old saying about what’s behind a miserable failure.”
You tell ’em Jane.
8. Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, 2006-2008
Some of the funniest “Weekend Update” segments of all time came from these two. They had their hilarious “Really?!” segment, as well as the high point of their tenure getting to mock all things about the 2008 Election. The only deterrent was that these two funny people were sometimes not so funny together. They had so-so chemistry and totally different comedic stylings. Sometimes it worked as they played off each other, and sometimes it felt uneven and choppy. Ultimately, they had more good moments than bad and we’ll always remember Poehler’s rap about Sarah Palin.
7. Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey, 2000-2004
SNL was hitting a huge stride during the early ’00s and Fallon and Fey’s fresh humor was definitely a contributing factor. These two are polar opposites but they just work. Fey was powerful and confident, and Fallon was like a little boy just trying to make people laugh. The two brought silliness back to the “Weekend Update” desk and you could just see how much fun they were having. Especially all the times Fallon broke on air!
6. Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd, 1977-1978
These two were the first co-anchors in the history of the show and also provided some of the first big quotable lines in SNL history. Alright, let’s be honest, those lines are still crazy quotable today. Who hasn’t heard someone say, “Jane, you ignorant slut” before? No one, that’s who. Curtin was straight, Aykroyd was goofy, and the two worked perfectly. Their best segment remains “Point/Counterpoint” where the two debated issues of the day until they turned into insult-filled rantings. These two get a spot near the top of the list for another big reason: showing how much the Update desk benefits from having two anchors.
5. Chevy Chase, 1975-1976
Chase was the very first anchor and that itself definitely warrants and top-five spot on this list. Chase became a breakout star during SNL’s first season because of one simple reason: he said his name. During his time anchoring, he introduced himself by saying, “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” and the rest is history. Despite his rumored off-screen antics and a contentious break from the show after just one season, there’s no denying he’s hilarious. He was able to shape the tone of how “Weekend Update” would be for years to come. He truly set the stage for the evolutions the segment has gone through over the show’s run.
4. Seth Meyers, 2008-2013
Meyers will definitely go down as one of the all-time SNL greats. He spent time as a writer, actor, and “Weekend Update” anchor during his time on the show. And it was his tenure as an anchor that most definitely the best. He was was a convincing newsman who could deliver jokes in the perfect way. And let’s put it this way: Meyers and writer John Mulaney helped bring the wonder that is Stefan into the world. For that, Meyers is for sure one of the top Update anchors of all time.
3. Norm McDonald, 1994-1997
McDonald has the honor of having a hilarious “Weekend Update” run and an incredibly controversial one. The sarcastic host knew how to satirize the news like no one else. But he often did it at others’ expense. He never shied away from lampooning the provocative stars of the day including O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Woody Allen. His days behind the desk brought risky jokes and a looser feel to the segment as a whole. Unfortunately, he was fired from the show at the urging of an NBC exec and we never got to see just how far he could take it on “Weekend Update.”
2. Dennis Miller, 1985-1991
After SNL’s rough run in the early-’80s, the show had to recapture some goodwill. Putting Miller in the Update seat was a successful way to do that. Miller was sarcastic and wry, always willing to play the wiseass for a laugh. He had a confidence in the seat that hasn’t been the case for many over the years. Plus, have you seen that hair?! Anyone with the balls to rock a cut that crazy on live TV is pretty willing to lay it all on the line for a laugh. Miller truly had it all as an Update host. He was “news anchor-y” enough to nail the point of the joke, but lighthearted enough to egg-on at his ridiculous guests. His six years at the “Weekend Update” desk speaks volumes about how great he was.
1. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, 2004-2006
Why are these two number one? Because bitches get stuff done! You know this! The first and only female co-anchors in the show’s history also happen to be the two funniest ladies to ever be on SNL. The old friends and comedy pros bounced off each other expertly and always put on a great show. Their pairing on the show gave the world one of the best comedy duos of all time. It led to more partnerships for the two, including movies and hosting the Golden Globes. It seems crazy now that there was a time these two would riff off each other every week on live TV. We didn’t know how lucky we had it with these two national treasures.