This weekend's edition of "Saturday Night Live" not only features the first "SNL" appearance by 88-year-old actress and comedienne Betty White (who scored the gig thanks to a swell of Internet support following her instant-classic Super Bowl commercial) but also the third career "SNL" performance for Jay-Z. Hip-hop has not had a long history on the show, but the past decade has opened up the gates for performances from the likes of Dr. Dre, Eminem, the Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. In fact, with his third appearance, Jigga ties Slim Shady as the rapper who has notched the most performances on the "Saturday Night Live" stage.
He made his "SNL" debut on December 16, 2000. "Ally McBeal" and "Charlie's Angels" star Lucy Liu was the host, and Iceberg Slim not only performed "I Just Wanna Luv U (Give It 2 Me)" and "Is That Your Chick" but also appeared in a really wacky sketch called "Murder in the Make-Believe Ballroom." That comedy bit tends to get edited out of one-hour replays of that episode, partially because Jigga drops a prop and accidentally says "s---" during the performance.
Though some performers might be reprimanded for cursing, the producers of "Saturday Night Live" were unfazed and brought Jay back for a second time on November 2, 2002. "Will and Grace" star Eric McCormick was that host of that episode, and Jay — who was about to release The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse — delivered two songs that featured big guests. His first was the then-single "Guns N' Roses," which featured a walk-on by Lenny Kravitz on guitar. Later on in the show, he broke out "03 Bonnie and Clyde" with the help of future wife Beyoncé. Though Jay did not appear in a sketch that night, he still blew away audiences with his performances (he made the otherwise tepid "Guns N' Roses" sound like a pretty badass tune).
Clearly, he has a lot to live up to this weekend, but with the help of Betty White, an army of other funny women and likely some special guests, he should be able to deliver — just like he always does.