"SNL" goes in hard on "The Bachelor," dissects woke/not-woke "Frozen II," Caronavirus, Black History Month in brilliantly funny athlete-led installment -- who knew?!
There's always a bit of nervousness when an athlete hosts "Saturday Night Live," because we've gotten some of the worst episodes this way ... but not so JJ Watts.
The Texans defensive end was actually pretty fantastic through much of the night, and even better, he had really strong material to work with. Sure, there was a lot of football material, but he also donned full Kristoff (from "Frozen"), went porn star pizza delivery and even took on Bigfoot.
And it wasn't all pre-taped bits to protect him, as JJ proved more than capable of emoting and performing off of cue cards, and wasn't too bad in looking at them through the night, either. Honestly, he was almost as good as anyone in the cast, which is a big deal for a non-actor/comedian/performer.
While Bowen Yang continues to soar in his debut season, we also saw a huge step up from Ego Nwodim in her second, debuting a pretty funny new character at the "Weekend Update" desk, while Bowen's Chinese trade representative transitioned smoothly into health minister, due to Coronavirus.
There were only two sketches that were just so-so throughout the night, which is an incredible average, and even those had a few chuckle moments. JJ definitely raised the bar pretty high for athletes cementing himself as one of the best "SNL" has ever brought to the stage.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, "Weekend Update" and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We'll skip the musical guests, because they're not usually funny - unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
Somebody on the writing staff -- or maybe JJ Watts -- has been accused of ordering too much food for one dude, so "Food Dudes" became an official sketch. The pre-taped commercial bit presented these talking, eating, microwaving mannequins to help you feel like less of an overeating slob when you order enough food for four and it's just you. So, that's a thing that exists now. The premise has humor, but it was just more strange than laugh-out-loud in execution.
This was one of those end-of-the-night oddball sketches, only it wasn't the last one. JJ Watt was a sophisticated Bigfoot who left a bigger deuce just shy of the toilette. And that was about the crux of the bit, though Cecily Strong falling in love with him was a fun twist. JJ was again game for whatever, but this one didn't quite come together around him. Really it was just Kenan Thompson doing exasperated Kenan Thompson for a few minutes.
Olay Eye Black
So, you know how men's health and beauty products have to be marketed to protect their fragile "masculinity"? Olay's new line of "bro" products is "just gay enough," while still having bro-tastic black packaging, Jack Daniels scent and all those other aggressive things needed so guys don't feel the slightest bit threatened in their manhood to use them. It's funny because it's so true. They even had to make "green tea" sound intense and threatening, because guys won't use it unless there's the slightest chance it might kick their ass so they can say they not only use it, but they defeated it in ritual combat first. Like a man!
While his delivery was a little dry, JJ actually had some genuinely funny football-related material, from making fun of his dumb teammates (and himself) to saying his mom wanted to have a kicker after having three huge NFL linesmen, so she would have someone to dress up and buy cute clothes for. Already he was off to a strong start for an athlete; who have notoriously been hit-or-miss on this stage. He has a very nice, natural charm about him that actually made us hopeful for the rest of the night.
COLD OPEN: Impeachment Fantasy
The first thing that happened in this version of the impeachment you wish we'd have gotten was Kenan Thompson's Judge Mathis giving Mikey Day's Chief Justice Roberts the boot. Then we got witnesses like John Bolton (a brilliant Cecily Strong) and Hunter Biden (a welcome Pete Davidson), because Mathis likes his trials messy. He even called Alec Baldwin's Trump himself, who tottered in on a walker a la Harvey Weinstein and they worked in a timely "My Cousin Vinny" joke -- at least Kenan acknowledge that was even too dumb for this. The sketch veered into absurdity throughout, but definitely had more laughs than the real deal ... and singing!
"What better way to start Black History Month than to be failed by the justice system?" Michael Che asked. Colin Jost got in a good jab about why these Trump fellas (like John Bolton) keep writing books about his incendiary and potentially illegal actions rather than just, you know, tell people immediately. But those were about the best two jokes in what should have been a slam-dunk tirade about the impeachment trial wrapping up.
Bowen Yang's Chen Biao quickly went from trade representative to health minister in the wake of Coronavirus, which is fine by us because this bee-yotch is actually pretty damned entertaining. He gave a breakdown of the lockdowns and promised China is not under-reporting numbers like they did that "one time!" with SARS in 2002. His bet bit came about a youth pastor preaching abstinence, so yeah, off topic Chen is the best Chen.
How are you going to do a Weinstein joke and it be about his walker right now, "SNL"? We get it was late-breaking news, but that's the kind of news you stop the presses for. The material didn't get any stronger in the non-politics half, though they had a few good jokes like the fat owl, but this audience was not feeling their more twisted stuff, like the Valentine's Day hotel joke (that was pretty gross (with bonus graphic imagery)).
Ego Nwodim scored an "Update" character with the debut of Dr. Angie Hynes, here to talk Black History Month. Or should we say, "s/he black and s/he history to me!" What a fun character, filled with self-righteous indignation and plenty of attitude. Ego absolutely nailed this character, and we loved her calling Jost racist for thinking her twin sister was her, and going in on "black Walgreens" Duane Reade for locking up the lotion and thinking a 14-year-old was her kid. It was all such nonsense, but we loved her attitude and the delivery was spot-on.
The sex talk is always awkward, but when it's about "your mother" and her "good good" it can quickly shift from awkward to oh god please make it stop. Poor Kyle Mooney got the one-two assault from a very proud JJ Watt and a very confident Aidy Bryant after walking on his parents. We're not sure who was funnier: JJ with his bravado and cocky self-assuredness or Aidy's sultry, slithering seductress. But we definitely felt for poor Kyle as we've all been in some version of this nightmarish scenario, just hopefully not quite this version.
JJ Watt was on fire reading and reacting to some truly terrible lines he was recording for the upcoming edition of the football video game franchise. We loved him transitioning from saying ridiculous lines that really make video game JJ look weak, pathetic, insensitive and just bad at football to questioning why the developers are trying to make him look weak, pathetic, insensitive and just bad.
Frozen II Deleted Scenes
Interestingly, "SNL" waited this long to go down the "Elsa is gay" rabbbit hole, but it was probably worth it to hear Cecily Strong sing about it as Anna and Kate McKinnon's Elsa try to assure everyone that it's okay she has no love interest and just likes to play with snow. Beck Bennett helps sell Disney's hesitation as a narrator a litttle concerned that Elsa can turn his son gay ... "with her powers?" They looked at "Woke" Kristoff (JJ Watts) and totally tore down why it makes any logical sense for a black man to be in rural Scandinavia in the 1800s so they can be diverse, too. JJ proved game to poke fun at himself and sing; honestly, he was rock solid here, playing off of Cecily and bringing his own laughs.
A clever look at what happens after the porn pizza delivery guy makes it back to the restaurant tired and with no money for that pizza, Kenan Thompson was brilliant as the frustrated owner, while JJ Watt brought a fun accent and a real passion for his work to their closed-door meeting. Unfortunately, loving what you do doesn't pay the bills so it wasn't looking good for ol' JJ. A simple enough joke that's been done before, but it was sharply written with great performances from both JJ and Kenan.
Wow, "SNL" went in hard on "The Bachelor" this time around as every lady in the cast took times "stealing him for a second" as JJ Watt's dim-bulb bachelor ("why are your eyes peeing?") loved everything. Aidy Bryant saying producers stole her vitamins and replaced it with a knife certainly feeds the stereotype that the devil works hard, but "The Bachelor" producers work harder. Props for the contestant (Ego Nwodim) who drowned looking up in the shower last week, only to come back this week because she's "un-dead" now. It was savage, brilliant, funny and more accurate than it had any right to be.
Heartwarming may win the hearts of viewers, but it doesn't win playoffs. JJ Watt was hilarious as the voice of reason on the team, breaking down just how much Robbie really, really sucks at football in this pre-taped bit. Kenan Thompson's "wise old black janitor" even shut him down through some deft flashbacks. The whole skit was tightly edited for maximum laughs and a much more realistic twist on those feel-good stories about the underdog defying the odds and being the hero. Because sometimes implausible leans toward impossible. And then it poops its pants.
While we loved seeing Ego stretching her wings and finding her voice, she just didn't have enough to score this week's coveted POW.
Beck Bennett was all over the place tonight, while Cecily Strong did some of her strongest character work in smaller parts; her John Bolton was almost unrecognizable in her commitment and brilliance (she got a close second this week).
Instead, it went to the veteran-est veteran of the staff, as Kenan Thompson kept the open moving as Judge Mathis, and wrapped things up brilliantly as a 1970s pizza parlor owner frustrated at JJ for selling sex for pie.
He also nailed additional appearances as the party host for Bigfoot, the token black guy in "Frozen II" and one of the hungry dudes in need of a little mannequin help. Hey, they can't all be winners but he was the glue that held this night together.
"Saturday Night Live" continues with host RuPaul and musical guest Justin Bieber next week.