Saturday Night Live: JJ Watt hosts but like the Senate it’s all a bit of a trial

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Zach Vasquez
·5 min read
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We kick off with The Trial You Wish Had Happened, turning the farce of the Senate and impeachment into a daytime courtroom show. Chief Justice John Roberts hands the reigns over to Judge Mathis (Keenan Thompson), who brooks no nonsense from the president’s cheerleaders, “Sneaky Little” Mitch McConnell (Beck Beckett) and “simple country simpleton” Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon).

Related: Saturday Night Live: Adam Driver hosts a third time and outdoes himself

He also allows witnesses to testify, welcoming “messy bitch who loves drama” John Bolton (Cecily Strong, well-hidden behind a Yosemite Sam mustache), a vape-smoking, hoverboard-riding Hunter Biden (Pete Davidson), and Donald Trump himself. Alec Baldwin’s Trump tries to “Weinstein” everyone by hobbling out on a walker, but it doesn’t fool anyone. A couple of random references to My Cousin Vinny and Les Mis later, things come to a merciful close. After last week’s creative and hilarious cold open, the show is back to its lazy habits.

In anticipation of the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt hosts, though of course he’d rather be playing the game. It’s always a dicey prospect when SNL lets a pro athlete – even one as charismatic as Watt – take over as host, and unfortunately Watt delivers a wooden and milquetoast monologue. It’s by no means a disaster, but it has the feel of the high-school jock taking a role in the fall play for credits.

A commercial for the Frozen II DVD includes deleted scenes addressing Elsa’s latent gayness, the film’s lack of diversity and Olaf the Snowman growing a crotch carrot. It’s disjointed and goes on way too long. Next, a college football team demand their coach put a third-string nobody (Chris Redd) into the big game, only to quickly realize what a terrible idea that is. It’s a decent send up of inspirational sports movies like Rudy, but not particularly memorable.

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Next, Watt and Aidy Bryant play a suburban mom and dad giving their teen son “the talk” after he walks in on sex. Their cheerfully filthy advice includes nuggets such as “Sometimes you gotta man up and clap those cheeks” and “You’re gonna need to know how to ride that thang like a soldier!” Then, Watt plays the new spokesman for Olay Eye Black, part of the “just gay enough” Olay Bro Skin Line. Both sketches are very bro-y, but its hard to fault them.

The night’s musical guest is country star Luke Combs, who performs Lovin’ On You. On Weekend Update, hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che run down the Senate trial, Che asking: “What better way to start Black History Month than being failed by the justice system?” Jost also takes a swing at Jared Kushner’s TV interview in which he snivelingly chastised the Palestinian rejection of his Middle East peace plan: “I’ve never seen a more self-entitled white guy – and I’m me!”

They’re joined by professor of African American Studies Dr Angie Hynes (Ego Nwodim), to discuss Black History Month. She wants to highlight lesser-known figures such as Cynthia Woods (“a bitch I thought was my friend until she showed up at my wedding wearing all white”), Malcom D (“a fool I work with who airdropped me a D-pic”), her twin sister Angel (“I had a dream … she slept with my husband, and that’s all I need to know!”) and Duane Read (aka “Black Walmart”).

Asked what any of these people have to do with Black History Month, she continually responds “they’re black – and they’re history to me!” It’s a welcome showcase for Nwodim, who rarely gets to be the center of attention.

On Pilot Hunk, Watt is a “fly boy looking for my fly girl”. He meets a series of desperate and idiotic contestants including one who “tragically has brown hair”, one back from the dead after dying in the previous episode, and one with a conjoined twin. Bachelor parodies are always good for a couple of laughs but Watt is weirdly awkward, despite leaning in to his natural woodenness.

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He’s much better playing himself in the next sketch, which finds him recording lines for the new Madden video game. They start out unremarkably – “Take a seat!”, “Here comes the boom!” – but he grows wary when they turn into mea culpas: “Whoopsies!” “Sorry Boys, that one’s on Me!”, “Captain Clumsy Strikes Again!”, “God I suck today!” They grow even more pathetic and bizarre: “Go ahead and boo me! At least I’m not in a wheelchair like that little boy over there!” and “Woo! I’m going to the Super Bowl, baby! My wife’s company got tickets – aw come on!”

Combs returns for Beer Never Broke My Heart. Then a snooty English professor presents his newly civilized student, Bigfoot (Watt in bad prosthetics), to members of society. The whole thing is as cringeworthy as it sounds, playing like another show’s send-up of SNL at its absolute worst. The last sketch is a porn parody, starring Watt as a hunky pizza delivery man constantly trading sex for pizza. It’s an exercise in cheap double entendre, although Thompson is good as his flummoxed boss.

Thus ends a very Blue Collar Comedy episode. Far be it from me to fault the show for trying something different but it all felt very pandering, the writers and Watt way out of their depth.