'Saturday Night Live' Lets J.J. Watt Follow The Tradition Of Enthusiastic But Awkward Athletic Hosts

It's Super Bowl weekend, so Saturday Night Live decided to have one of the NFL's star players host the show. J.J. Watt is a defensive end for the Houston Texans, so it should come as no surprise that performing isn't exactly his forté. But even so, the athlete hosted SNL with the same enthusiasm and energy that the likes of Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps and Charles Barkley have brought to Studio 8H. But it also came with the same awkwardness that comes from a lack of experience in acting, resulting in a rather mediocre episode of SNL.

So let's run through the best and worst sketches of the J.J. Watt hosted Saturday Night Live below.

The Best

RobbieRudy is the inspirational sports tale of an underdog Notre Dame football player with a lot of heart and a fierce dedication to the game. But Robbie is the tale of another underdog on the fighting Irish football team. Unfortunately, Robbie sucks, and only one player on the team is the voice of reason trying to stop him from being put into the big playoff game. How has this not been done before? Such a simple but well-executed idea, and it's the best thing J.J. Watt did this episode. Plus, kudos to whoever turned to "o" in Robbie into a zero.

Pizza Place – The idea of a pizza delivery guy hooking up with girls as payment for pizza is one of the most well known cliches in porn. J.J. Watt is the perfect guy to play one of those pizza delivery guys, but here, he's held accountable for his poor delivery tactics by the pizza place owner, played perfectly and hilarious by Kenan Thompson. Again, this is such a brilliant idea, and I'm surprised it took this long to see a sketch like this.

Madden '21 – We've seen sketches where someone has to record lines for a video game, but this one puts a fun spin on it by having the future Madden '21 video game turn J.J. Watt into a bit of a bumbling idiot. J.J. Watt's a little bit clumsy when it comes to his performance here, especially when he has to act incredulous about the line's he's reading. But the lines themselves are so funny, that it doesn't ruin it completely.

The Average

Pilot HunkSNL has made habit out of parodying The Bachelor, and this is one of their more mediocre efforts. The rotating women just aren't as entertaining this time, though Watt continually laughing and saying "I love that" to the craziest things is moderately amusing.

Frozen 2 – This feels like SNL trying to do a sketch version of Honest Trailers. They nitpick the existence of Sterling K. Brown as a black character in Norway, the dimwitted nature of Kristoff, the clear indicators that Elsa is gay, and the generally woke updates to the animated sequel after the first one was criticized for being too white. It's a bit messy, but there are some funny moments. That's why it's just average.

Men's Product – This is a basic commercial parody turning something rather feminine into something masculine. It's something standard that SNL does when they have a big, hulking man like J.J. Watt, and while this one is decent, it doesn't really do much beyond the basic idea.

Food Dudes – The totally unrealistic portrayal of these mannequins is worth a chuckle. But for me, it's the questioning of the order by delivery people, especially when it comes to their desire to see the Food Dudes appear as real people, that is really funny to me. Honestly, I think it would have been better if this got a little weirder, but that's why it wasn't one of the best of the night.

The Worst

The Sex Talk – This sketch isn't downright terrible, but the timing and delivery is off. It's mostly due to J.J. Watt staying at the same level the whole way through, and he already started pretty high, so it doesn't really give the sketch anywhere to go. Aidy Bryant tries to reel it in before she ramps it back up, but the entire sketch just feels stilted.

Society Debut – The premise of this sketch starts off solid with a dignified, polite Sasquatch assimilating into British high society. Unfortunately, it devolves into a lame poop joke that has been done better elsewhere many times before. Also, for some reason, J.J. Watt's version of a dignified voice is just speaking in a slightly higher octave.

Impeachment Fantasy – Ugh. Trying to make light of what will be a shit smear in the history books is a joke in itself. The idea of making what should have been a fair trial into a sort of fantasy scenario is the best way to approach this. Unfortunately, it doesn't make it any easier to satirize, and this sketch is evidence of that. It's bad, but not nearly as bad as the reality of this situation.

Weekend Update

Is it just me, or do Colin Jost and Michael Che feel kind of defeated while doing the political headline one-liners? This is just a terrible situation all around. They lighten it up once we get away from the government headlines, but this did not feel like a fun edition of Weekend Update.

Chen Biao on the Coronavirus – Bowen Yang has been a hilarious addition to Saturday Night Live, but it does seem like he's playing the same character most of the time. Granted, some of the best cast members of SNL were famous for that too, but it has the potential to get tiresome. However, when it comes to playing the catty Chen Biao, who is now in charge of medical stuff in China, I'm not sick of it yet.

Dr. Angie Hynes on Black History Month – Hey, look at Ego Nwodim getting the spotlight during Weekend Update, and it's with a pretty solid bit where she calls out some of the people in her life that have done her wrong. They're black and they're history. I think it could have been played a little over the top to make it land a little more firmly, but it's still pretty good.

The Host

Well, J.J. Watt is certainly one of the more charismatic and affable athletes to host SNL, but he needs to work on those acting chops a bit. He's not quite as good as someone like Peyton Manning, but he's infinitely better than a Michael Phelps or a Tom Brady. He brought a lot of enthusiasm to the table, but his lack of experience with live comedy hampered some of the sketches from being better than they could have been. Maybe if he ever gets the chance to host again he'll be a little more comfortable.


Kenan Thompsons - Saturday Night LiveKenan Thompson – This honor is being given for one sketch, and one sketch alone. Kenan Thompson is absolutely great in that Pizza Place sketch. His disbelief in what his happening with this pizza delivery guy combined with the obliviousness to people hanging up the phone on him is something that only Kenan Thompson could make this funny. Plus, there weren't any really standout performances from other cast members since a lot of the sketches were just all right.

The Final Word

This episode is essentially the polar opposite of last weekend's return from the holiday hiatus. Instead of getting an almost entirely fantastic episode of SNL with an experienced, outstanding host, we get a mostly mediocre episode with an awkward, stilted, and inexperienced host. The ides for the sketches felt like they were decent, but it's the execution that was lacking the most. Hopefully it picks up a bit when the theatrical RuPaul hosts next weekend.