Sean Pendergast

Report Card: J.J. Watt, Host of Saturday Night Live

It was a good week in New York City for J.J. Watt's brand.
It was a good week in New York City for J.J. Watt's brand. Screen grab from YouTube
I'm 1,000 percent certain that J.J. Watt would have much rather been in Miami this past weekend, preparing for Super Bowl LIV as a player, than in New York City making the NBC rounds, but if you're not going to play in the Super Bowl, short of taking home a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award at the NFL Honors ceremony, then knocking it out of the park on The Tonight Show and hosting Saturday Night Live is a pretty damn good backup plan.

And that's exactly what J.J. Watt did! It started with a hilarious segment with Jimmy Fallon Thursday night, in which the two of them ingested hot sauces that appeared to be the equivalent of taking a blowtorch to the face....

.... followed by an interview with Fallon where the physical discomfort for both was quite evident....

Watt is really good at the late night interview circuit, we know this. He is likable, he is candid, he is funny, and when necessary, he is self deprecating. Someday, he will be a very big television star in things that don't require a helmet or annual surgical tuneups. However, hosting SNL is a different deal. You're being asked to get pushed outside your comfort zone, and be next level funny, not just "chatting with Fallon" funny.

And so it went, that at 10:30 p.m. Central Time Saturday night, J.J. Watt took the stage. He participated in nine different bits, skits, or segments. Let's go through them, and see how the Texans All-World defensive end did, shall we?

I can't even imagine getting up and doing a monologue like this in front of millions of people, when you're paid vocation is, you know, BEING A FOOTBALL PLAYER. You can see Watt get more and more comfortable as the short set went on. The family jokes were really good, especially the one about his mom wanting a kicker that she could dress up in cute outfits. Degree of difficulty factors in here, as well as the fact that he is taking what writers are giving him joke-wise. Very solid start for Watt here

The first of many risqué scenes for Watt! An implied f-bomb! I loved his costume in this, so much so that if they do "Frozen 2 on Ice," Watt could probably play Kristoff. (NOTE: Watt played hockey growing up and can actually skate!) And Olaf's second carrot!

Maybe my Notre Dame colors are showing through, but this was a fantastic parody of the movie Rudy. Honestly,  Watt's character's reaction is probably indicative of how some of the actual Notre Dame players felt about the real Rudy back in 1975.


More risqué stuff! I love it! This might have been Watt's acting job of the entire night. Bonus points for the wig where Watt has the "creepy, suburban dad side part" going in a big way!

These satirical ads are always quick filler. Oil of Brolay was funny enough, and Watt was again, very good as the over the top — WAY, over the top — version of himself.

This was probably much more funny if you actually watch The Bachelor on ABC every Monday night (which I do... don't judge me!). If you don't you were probably thinking "Man, J.J. doesn't do much in this scene except appear to be a vapid, shallow bro." Well, yeah, that's what pretty much EVERY BACHELOR WHO'S EVERY APPEARED ON THE SHOW has been. This will be the one skit with the widest range of grades among viewers. Because I watch The Bachelor I was howling throughout, and these are MY GRADES.

This was perfect. The creators of the MADDEN 2021 game had Watt read a bunch of lines for the game, and virtually none of them were things he would say. The avatar with the belly button piercing was the coup de gras of what, along with "ROBBIE," may have been the best skits of the night.

This skit didn't hit with me the first time that I watched it, mostly because I was probably distracted by the incredible makeup job the costume folks did with Watt's face as Big Foot. Oh, I mean, GRAND PIED. It was funnier the second time I watched it — the floor on a skit that includes Cecily Strong will always be a 6 out of 10, for me — but still probably the low point of the night. It was also in the final 20 minutes of the show, when the chamber on A material is usually emptied.

I say the chamber on good material was emptied, but then along came Willie's Pizza Place! Watt's range on this show was pretty damn impressive — cartoon character, football player, clueless father, Big Foot, and then a quasi-pornstar pizza delivery stoner. Great work on this one.


Overall, a great night for Watt, with 0.7 bonus points tacked on for the Kobe tribute at the end. I'm a little disappointed they didn't have a skit in which Watt was slamming trash cans with hammers in the Astros dugout tunnel, but whatever.


Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast