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Different Strokes

Sept. 22, 2008
Sept. 22, 2008

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Sept. 22, 2008

SI Players: LIFE ON AND OFF THE FIELD
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Different Strokes

Michael Phelps makes a splash on SNL

OF MICHAELPHELPS'S post-Beijing TV appearances—Oprah, Leno, MTV's Video Music Awards—nonewas more anticipated than last week's turn as host of Saturday Night Live.Stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Costas, Brian Williams and celebrity chefGuy Fieri came to the show, and Phelps joked during his monologue that his SNLgig was, "like, the ninth greatest moment of my life."

This is an article from the Sept. 22, 2008 issue

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

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

PHOTODANA EDELSON/NBCU PHOTO BANK/AP (PHELPS)YUKS Phelps avoided politics and got saxy.PHOTODANA EDELSON/NBC PHOTO (SAXOPHONE)