SI Vault
 
Different Strokes
Adam Duerson
September 22, 2008
Michael Phelps makes a splash on SNL
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 22, 2008

Different Strokes

Michael Phelps makes a splash on SNL

View CoverRead All Articles

OF MICHAEL PHELPS'S post-Beijing TV appearances—Oprah, Leno, MTV's Video Music Awards—none was more anticipated than last week's turn as host of Saturday Night Live. Stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Costas, Brian Williams and celebrity chef Guy Fieri came to the show, and Phelps joked during his monologue that his SNL gig was, "like, the ninth greatest moment of my life."

But seriously. To prepare, Phelps phoned Ashton Kutcher for acting tips (eight gold medals is an all-access pass to everyone) and studied Peyton Manning's hilarious 2007 stint as host. In his monologue Phelps also said he had to be careful of his image and the products he endorses (leading to a punch line involving a toy called My First Meth Lab). But his performance in the end was less Manning and more Michael Jordan, who hosted SNL in 1991: calculated, reserved, likable. Phelps played himself a couple of times; he poked fun at his mom; he donned a wig; he gracefully deferred to guests Tina Fey and William Shatner. He says he consciously kept his political views out of an episode that—elevated by a skit featuring Fey as Sarah Palin—bubbled over with political references.

The swimmer's funniest bit may have been playing a pitchman for an overindulgent Michael Phelps diet, but it is probably safe to say—and this is hardly meant as a slight—that Phelps's best moments on live TV may be behind him.

1