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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was solid hosting ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!,’ but Snoop Dogg shined

The ESPN host felt more at home on the late night stage than delivering contrived sports arguments on his own show, "First Take."

ESPN host Stephen A. Smith fills in as guest host of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.
ESPN host Stephen A. Smith fills in as guest host of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.Read moreABC

During his guest hosting stint on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Monday, Stephen A. Smith had a warning for Ryan Seacrest: “I’m coming for you!”

Like Seacrest, there’s barely an hour of the day where Smith doesn’t find himself in front of a camera. In addition to First Take, he began hosting Stephen A.’s World on ESPN+ in January, continues to make regular appearances on the long-running soap opera General Hospital, fills in during the NBA season as a SportsCenter host, and recently finished filming an appearance on the ABC comedy Blackish.

The ESPN host and former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter-turned-columnist felt at home on the late-night stage, where he wasn’t forced to pretzel himself into contrived sports arguments for two hours. Smith delivered a solid monologue that featured jokes about COVID-19, outlasting the new host of Jeopardy!, and something called the “Milk crate challenge,” where people try and fail to climb a less-than-sturdy pyramid of milk crates.

“We’re all so worried about COVID, bit TikTok is what’s going to kill us,” Smith joked.

The most successful bit of the night was a pre-filmed segment where the bombastic host toned down his demonstrative side to become a yoga instructor leading a meditation workshop.

It was also ironic that Smith’s first guest was Snoop Dogg, since the ESPN host has become known to many for his insistence that NBA players “stay off the weed.” The always entertaining rapper pushed for the NFL and NBA to remove their restrictions on the use of marijuana and defended Smith’s take, pointing out that musicians and entertainers don’t have to undergo drug tests.

“When Stephen A. is speaking, he’s speaking to the athletes to let them know…you can hang out with the rappers, but you can’t do what the rappers do, because the rappers don’t have ramifications for what they do,” Snoop Dogg said. “So he’s basically trying to protect your money and give you some knowledge, so don’t take it the wrong way.”

This was just a one-time hosting gig for Smith, who was filling in for the vacationing Kimmel. Singer Niall Horan will fill in as guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Tuesday, while drag icon RuPaul will take the reins Wednesday and Thursday. The show hasn’t yet announced who will fill in on Friday.

Snoop Dogg should do more play-by-play

While most of the attention was on Smith’s sports-to-entertainment transition, don’t sleep on the potential of Snoop Dogg calling sporting events from the booth.

During his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Smith had Snoop do play-by-play of a TikTok clip, featuring an unfortunate soul trying and failing at the milk crate challenge. Snoop excelled, pointing out everything from the man’s wave cap (”It’s weighing him down”) to the cigarette in his right hand.

“His new name is Chester, because his chest’ll hurt tomorrow,” Snoop Dogg said.

This isn’t the first time Snoop Dogg has done a bit of play-by-play. In 2019, the rapper found himself in the booth of FOX Sports West (before it was renamed Bally Sports West) calling part of a game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche.

In the short span of five minutes, Snoop Dogg dropped a number of notable lines, including “slide in where you ride in” and “run the three-man weave!”