16 March 2002 | Saturday Night Live Opening Monologue

Thank you, thank you very much indeed! Well, here we all are. And here I am hosting Saturday Night Live. "Why?" you might ask. And all through these rehearsals, I've been asking myself the same thing, actually. You know, a classical actor, used to doing Strindberg and Chekov and Shakespeare - plays that have been around for centuries - and here I am performing work that's only been around since yesterday afternoon. No, honestly, they're still writing some of the scripts right now! I hope it's not too obvious.

People are always telling me I should do more comedy. Well, this show will show them - they'll never ask that again! To think I could be sunning myself in Los Angeles waiting for the Oscars; or be at home in London seeing my 95-year old stepmother, who I don't get to see often enough; or I could be on holiday with my boyfriend in New Zealand, there's a thought. But, now, I'm here. Here in New York doing Saturday Night Live. Basically, it's just vanity, I suppose. But I love this troupe of players, this company, the regulars on Saturday Night Live. Especially that Jimmy Fallon, isn't he cute! Most hosts get around to thanking the cast at the end of the show, I think it's worth thanking them right now, because I need them on my side.

I'm not sure they realize they're part of a very old theatre tradition - it's called "Revue." Did you know Maggie Smith - Dame Maggie - started off in revue when she was a kid? She's still brilliant at one-liners — if you've seen her in Gosford Park, you know what I mean. And when Maggie and I were starting out, she dragged my hero, Laurence Olivier, to come and see me act in London. And subsequently he put me into his National Theatre Company, along with a young actor called Anthony Hopkins. And who would have thought that after all those years in the classics, Dame Maggie would end up being best known as the Harry Potter Lady, Tony Hopkins best known for eating people's faces, and they'd make me into an action figure! I love my action figures, I play with them all day long.

Anyway! It's really, really fun and great to be here, I feel really welcome. Unlike this morning's St. Patrick's Day parade in New York, where they don't exactly encourage openly gay men. They don't seem to mind the priests, though, do they? Hey, look, forget the parade, we've got a great show, and I'm gonna have a ball, and so are you, because my fave disco diva is here - Kylie Minogue! So stick around, and we'll be right back!

Ian McKellen as Dame Maggs on SNL

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