Fire up the musical numbers and mascot uniforms, because Justin Timberlake is gearing up to return to Saturday Night Live. The actor and singer, 42, will return to Studio 8H at NBC on Jan. 27 to appear as the show's musical guest alongside the evening's host, Dakota Johnson. The long-awaited appearance, which follows the Jan. 20 episode featuring Euphoria star Jacob Elordi and musical guest Reneé Rapp, will serve as Timberlake's first return to the famed sketch comedy series in over a decade.
The news came just days before Timberlake's Thursday appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, during which he announced his upcoming world tour, the Forget Tomorrow World Tour, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Scheduled to kick off the tour on April 29 in Vancouver, Canada, Timberlake is well aware that the best way to drum up publicity is by belting out a few tunes on Saturday Night Live's iconic stage. But as any SNL fan knows, it's likely that the singer, who is known for his comedic chops, will also make his way into a sketch or two.
This is Timberlake's return to Studio 8H for the first time in almost a decade
Earlier this week, SNL announced Timberlake's upcoming return in an Instagram post, also noting that Johnson would serve as the show's host. (The duo both appeared in 2010’s The Social Network.) Since the occasion marks Timberlake's first official return to Saturday Night Live in almost a decade, commenters were shocked at the news.
How often has Timberlake appeared on Saturday Night Live?
With his roots as a Mouseketeer on Disney's famed Mickey Mouse Club, Timberlake was no stranger to the sketch show format. But he truly left his mark on SNL over the years, using the platform as an opportunity to promote his musical endeavors and show off his comedic skills — and ultimately parlay that into a film career in movies like Friends With Benefits and In Time.
Timberlake began his stretch of frequent SNL appearances as a musical guest when he was a member of the boy band NSync, which made its first appearance on the show in 2000, performing “Bye, Bye, Bye” and the a cappella ballad “I Thought She Knew.” Timberlake returned as the musical guest in 2013 in an episode hosted by his longtime friend Jimmy Fallon. As a host, Timberlake tackled the job in 2009 and 2011 and pulled double duty as host and musical guest in 2003, 2006 and 2013.
But in addition to his scheduled appearances as host or musical guest, Timberlake popped into the series several times over the last couple of decades. He memorably appeared with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears in a 2002 episode, followed by several other occasions over the years that included live in-person appearances at the studio and segments in SNL digital shorts.
Timberlake's last cameo was in 2015, during SNL's 40th anniversary special. There, he donned a tux, top hat and cane alongside Fallon as they ushered the legendary series into its fifth decade. But since then, he has been quite elusive, sending SNL fans into a tailspin of hope that he would pop by once again.
What are some of Timberlake's most famous sketches on SNL?
There are your typical Saturday Night Live sketches, and then there's “D*** in a Box.” Conceived by Andy Samberg's sketch comedy group, The Lonely Island, the 2006 SNL digital short featured Timberlake and Samberg, clad in cheesy ’90s R&B garb, as they seduced their ladyloves with bow-adorned, crotch-placed gift boxes. The sketch quickly went viral, spawned a million Halloween costumes and became deeply entrenched in the comedy stratosphere.
The duo would reapply their cheesy sideburns and bedazzled sunglasses in 2009's “Motherlover,” in which they portrayed R&B singers who plan on seducing each other's moms, portrayed by Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson. The team would reunite yet again for 2011's “The 3-Way (The Golden Rule)” alongside Lady Gaga.
In addition to his collaborations with Samberg, Timberlake frequently teamed up with Fallon on SNL. In “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” Timberlake sported a 1970s suit, prosthetic teeth and a mane of flowing blond hair to portray the Bee Gees' Robin Gibb while Fallon slapped on a beard to play Robin's brother and bandmate crooner Barry Gibb. While Timberlake didn't have a lot of dialogue in the sketch, it was his occasional forays into high-pitched falsettos that lured the viewers into belly laughs. After its first appearance in 2003, “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” returned five more times, with Timberlake's 2013 appearance as the sketch's final outing.
Another sketch that garnered significant attention for Timberlake was 2009's “Immigrant Tale,” in which he portrayed his ancestor, Cornelius Timberlake, circa 1883. The sketch, which featured Timberlake looking forward to the tremendous success he would achieve in the musical arena, also made waves for its reference to Timberlake's relationship with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears. “Publicly, they'll claim to be virgins, but privately, he hit it,” Timberlake reflected, referring to his time with the pop princess. The joke earned applause, hoots and hollers from the crowd inside Studio 8H.
Always willing to since and dance for a laugh, Timberlake had one of his most successful sketch series for SNL dancing on the street in a mascot suit for local businesses. In “Bring It on Down to Wrappinville,” Timberlake dressed as an oversized roll of wrapping paper alongside Fallon and longtime cast member Aidy Bryant. Set to the tune of Run DMC's “It's Tricky” — but with the words changed to “It's sticky” — the skit let Timberlake show off his comedic chops. The concept was brought back to life several times over the years, with Timberlake tackling new iterations ranging from “Liquorville,” which featured him dressed as a beer bottle and singing “Rude Boy,” to belting out “Soup! There It Is” dressed as a “Cup O' Soup.”
In 2009, Timberlake sported a neck brace, pink robe and gray wig to appear as Peg, a friend of the Target Lady, a character portrayed by SNL icon Kristen Wiig. “Classic Peg!” became the catchphrase for the troubled lady's behavior, which included straining her neck while pushing a washing machine up a hill.
As for Saturday evening's main event, promo segments have already hit the airwaves to drum up buzz for Timberlake's musical performance, as well as Johnson's return. (The Madame Web star first hosted the series back in 2015.)
“Let's just say, ‘Justin, you're not going to be the only one bringing sexy back,’” cast member Sarah Sherman told the camera during the promo segment.
“Oh wow, I can't wait to see that,” said Timberlake.