It’s hard to know whether this would have made for a hilarious 90 minutes of TV or would have been boring, leaden or even cringe-worthy: Prince Harry reportedly was in talks at the end of last year to host “Saturday Night Live” as part of his media blitz to promote the January release his memoir “Spare.”
But the talks stalled at the 11th hour, Page Six said, citing multiple sources with the long-running sketch-comedy show
“I know that Harry was all in, he was really serious about doing it — and it would have been great fun as promo for the book,” one well-placed TV source told Page Six. “‘SNL’ producers have been after Harry for a while. Everyone on the show was really into the idea, and people would definitely have tuned in.”
Another industry insider confirmed that negotiations were taking place, telling Page Six: “There’s always lots of names in the mix, but Harry was definitely a name being discussed.”
It’s not known why the hosting gig didn’t work out, but Harry, 38, ended up doing more serious-minded TV interviews for the book with U.K.’s ITV and with Anderson Cooper on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
The younger son of King Charles III proved himself to be an engaging, on-camera presence during his January appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” With Colbert, Harry also showed some ability to laugh at himself and his royal status.
But Harry also is known to take himself pretty seriously at times and can be prickly about criticism, so it’s easy to wonder whether he’d truly let loose and not put limits on what the “SNL” writers wrote for him. For example, would Harry let the writers have fun with the extended passages in “Spare,” when he describes how he suffered a frostbitten penis on a trip to the Arctic before Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding? Certainly, everyone else on late-night TV and Twitter has had fun with Harry’s “frozen todger” story.
The other thing about hosting “Saturday Night Live”: It’s not for faint-hearted. Even veteran professional actors and performers have talked about how grueling it can be to have a week to quickly learn lines and blocking for multiple sketches. Above all, it’s really, really hard to be funny, especially under the pressure of performing on live TV.
Sources told Page Six that “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels loved the thought of having Harry on the show, although another insider said it might still work better to have Harry come on “as a surprise cameo in a sketch.”
Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, has far more professional experience with acting, given her theater training at Northwestern University and her work in Hollywood, including on the TV legal drama “Suits.” But even she struggled to show off her comedy cops as a guest star on friend Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show in 2021.
Meghan’s participation in a prank segment, directed by DeGeneres, made for uncomfortable viewing, when the Duchess of Sussex was directed to eat tortilla chips like a chipmunk, appear to drink from a baby bottle and strangely squat up and down.
“SNL” has a long history of mocking the royal family, Page Six said. Onetime cast member Fred Armisen often played the late Queen Elizabeth as a Cockney mob boss, while Martin Short appeared in a 2012 sketch set at Kate’s first Oob-gyn appointment. Mikey Day did a hilarious impression of Harry for a number of sketches, including one in 2019 that imagined Harry and Meghan’s star-studded baby shower.
More recently, Harry and Meghan came in for some mocking on “SNL” when Short and Steve Martin co-hosted in December — around the time the Sussexes created an uproar on both sides of the Atlantic by using their Netflix series to accuse the British media of racism and by alleging that there was unconscious racial bias in the royal family. During Short and Martin’s opening monologue, Short quipped: “You know Steve, we are like Harry and Meghan. No one’s rooting for us but you’ll tune in to watch anyway.”