Kent Damon had a challenge for his two sons, Matt and Kyle.
The boys would stay at his house every other weekend in the wake of their parents' divorce. The father was stern about the rules for bedtime, but there was an exception on the weekend.
If the boys could keep awake until 1 a.m., they were allowed to watch “Saturday Night Live,” which had quickly become a cultural mainstay in the late 1970s.
“So, week after week, I tried to stay up, and it wasn’t until I was 8 years old that I made it all the way to the end,” Matt Damon said during his opening monologue on Saturday, as host of the show for the second time.
Matt, 48, turned eight-years old the day after “SNL” premiered its fourth season in 1978. The Rolling Stones were hosting and performing.
Throughout the year, Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin and Walter Matthau hosted. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, as the Blues Brothers, belted “Soul Man” before Thanksgiving.
One of those moments probably sparked the warm memories Matt described.
“My dad knew there was nothing more important in the world than to laugh with the people that you love,” Matt said.
Kent Damon surely caught Matt hosting “SNL” for the first time in 2002. But he did not see the second turn.
He died Dec. 14, 2017, from complications of multiple myeloma, a rare blood disease.
That was precisely a year and a day before Matt hosted Saturday. But the family tradition has continued.
“Tonight, my big brother is in Boston right now watching with his two boys, and all my kids are here, including my youngest, who happens to be 8 years old,” Matt said.
He continued: “My wife and I told her she can stay up all the way to 1 a.m., and she can watch ‘Saturday Night Live.’ And she said, ‘Who’s hosting?’ And I said, ‘Me. Your dad. Matt Damon.’ And she said, ‘Who’s the musical guest?'”
It was not the only laugh Matt got during his emotional monologue. The actor joked that he wasn’t there to promote any particular film, so he could bomb and not worry so much about the consequences.
But he also fondly recalled the arc of his career. He stormed Hollywood with Ben Affleck in 1997 with the film “Good Will Hunting,” for which the pair won screenwriting Oscar.
Five years later, he hosted SNL for the first time, when “The Bourne Identity” kicked off the series and character that might be his most iconic role.
“If you told me that all of this would have happened 16 years ago, well, I might have believed you,” Matt said. “But if you told me that Ben Affleck and I would be washing cars in Somerville, Massachusetts, well, I would have believed that, too.”