It was a pretty good weekend to be Jon Hamm. The Mad Men star did some of his best work yet on the show’s effortlessly brilliant season finale. Whether it was plaintively reading a heartfelt letter to wife Betty in voiceover or joking around with his children in a hotel room over burgers, Mr. Hamm has ever emboldened Don with such a comfortable humanity before. It might be time to start splicing together a 2009 Emmy reel.
And! As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Hamm killed on Saturday Night Live. While the ratings for the latest episode were down compared to the other guest-star heavy affairs from this month, Saturday Night Live still pulled in roughly eight times the number of viewers that an average episode of Mad Men does. Overall the viewership was up 73 percent from last October.
With most of the cast looking exhausted and Amy Poehler off delivering her baby (it’s a boy!), you would have been right to expect Mr. Hamm to bomb. Instead, he carried the show on his back. We can’t remember a host appearing in so many skits, by himself most of the time, and scoring laughs so frequently. He was funny, sharp and totally game for everything–from spoofing Mad Men to the best, and perhaps only, James Mason impression we’ve ever seen. (Seriously. It has us in tears. If there is anyone out there hoping to make a biopic based on the late actor, you’ve found your star.)
A lot has been written about Mr. Hamm becoming the next George Clooney. We don’t agree. Good looks aside, he has neither the oozing charm nor the playful sense of humor that Mr. Clooney possesses. However, what the Saturday Night Live hosting gig proved to us was the ease with which Mr. Hamm can play someone other than a caddish prick. As many of the skits showed, buried underneath that furrowed brow is an earnest everyman waiting to get out. At the very least, if he can’t have George Clooney’s career (and who can?), he could certainly find success playing second fiddle to guys like George Clooney. Think, James Marsden but with more gravitas and a better voice. Casting directors, take note! If you need to find the “other guy” for your movie, feel free to give Sterling-Cooper a call.