Live from New York, it was J.J. Watt!
The former Wisconsin Badger and current Houston Texan made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut on Feb. 1, and he was… not bad! And that’s high praise for an athlete, a profession whose appearances on the long-running show have ranged from “surprisingly great to offensively awful.” But Watt has always been comfortable in front of a camera, so this shouldn’t really surprise anyone.
Watching SNL these days can be a chore. In recent years, the comedy institution has devolved into a never-ending stream of celebrity cameos and unfunny neoliberal “clapter” jokes. Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression is the worst thing on television, and one of the show’s head writers is a relentless bully. So let’s trim the fat here and look at just the J.J. Watt sketches, ranked from worst to best. As Badgers fans, at least we can enjoy that.
9. ‘Frozen 2’
Oh, J.J. You tried, bud. But singing is difficult enough without the tepid material he, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong are given in this fake ad for Frozen II deleted scenes. Big wine mom energy in this one, which somehow was the first sketch post-monologue.
Bigfoot is introduced to high society with mixed results. The concept is funny enough, but the execution seems to lean too heavily on the goofy mid-Atlantic accents. And the poop joke from “Robbie” was much funnier (more on that sketch later).
Watt plays a father discussing the birds and the bees with his son, played by Kyle Mooney. Except instead of this being a learning experience, dear old dad describes his own sex life in increasingly vulgar terms. Aidy Bryant pops in as the mom near the end to assist in making everyone uncomfortable.
I love J.J. Watt because he’s really good at playing the dumb jock who’s in on the joke. Here he yuks it up about family and football, and also offers up a Super Bowl prediction. The monologue is where a guy with Watt’s natural charisma could shine. (Even if the “kickers are gay” joke falls extremely flat.)
The last sketch of the night is usually the weirdest, and this one was no exception. Watt plays a pizza delivery guy straight out of a porno. Kenan Thompson is his boss, a harried man who’s understandably concerned that Watt keeps returning with no money and no pizza. I always wondered how pizza joints stayed open under the established “pie for sex” model, and now I have my answer. Points to this one for being imaginative.
It sure does seem like the folks at Electronic Arts have a grudge against our big tacklin’ guy. Or at least they do when played by Mikey Day and Ego Nwodim, who run Watt through a series of increasingly strange and self-hating prerecorded lines.
Fellas, is it gay to care about your skin? Not if you’re using Olay Eye Black, which serves to make opposing teams cower in fear while also doing wonders for your pores. To prevent anyone from questioning your manliness, Olay Eye Black smells like “Jack Daniels, gasoline and matcha extract.”
In purely football terms, Rudy should not have been allowed anywhere near the field in the classic 1993 gridiron flick Rudy. In this pre-taped short, Watt takes a stand and tries to convince his teammates not to let the Rudy stand-in Robbie (Chris Redd) play in the big game because he “sucks ass” and is “dogshit.” Also, Robbie shit his pants in practice. I like this one, if anything to see Watt’s high-energy freakout.
“Hi, I’m Pat, and I make the plane hurry up” almost made me spit out my coffee. And Pat’s given title of “plane driver” reminds me of a gag from the British sitcom The Inbetweeners in which the dimwitted Neil learns what pilots are. The Bachelor riffs are one of the show’s better recurring sketches, and “I love that.”
Honestly, Watt did a pretty good job on SNL. In the pantheon of jock hosts, Watt is somewhere in the top tier, between Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter. Watt also joins Daniel J. Travanti, Edwin Newman and Seann William Scott as the fourth Badger to the lead the show. (Wait, Stifler went to UW?!) I’d say Watt did his alma mater proud. Someone get the man a Spotted Cow; he’s earned it.