They first appeared on my radar in late 2000, with a few short videos that went super-viral during the depths of the pandemic. They all featured a group of silly-looking guys, sitting around in an apartment together.
I think this was the first one I saw, an incisive parody of the frequent Twitter-is-not-real-life observation that Brooklyn bros encountered by women on dates tend to be huge fans of the late writer David Foster Wallace:
I think the first one that really broke through, though, was Woodley Mode:
After a certain amount of virality, the story emerged: The group was called Please Don’t Destroy, and it consisted of Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy, all three of them former NYU students. Herlihy and Higgins are both the sons of SNL writers, and Herlihy’s father Tim has had a hand in writing a dozen different Adam Sandler movies. Sandler once even played an SNL character called “The Herlihy Boy.”
So it was perhaps not surprising that the three of them were hired as SNL writers in the fall of 2021, while also producing video shorts in most episodes, taking the old slot long held by the Lonely Island.
This year, they have an untitled movie coming out (on Peacock in November), while the trio is also embarking on a comedy tour, which I caught the first night at Philadelphia’s Fillmore on June 23.
The two-hour show was consistently hilarious, consisting mostly of sketch work, along with a touch of improv and some crowd work. These guys are going places, I get the sense.
Arriving on stage in different-colored Adidas tracksuits, the trio performed a series of sketches, about a half-dozen of which were absolutely first-rate. But not before they launched a t-shirt gun, with only one t-shirt. Herlihy went on to describe their tour as “The Eras Tour, for girls who were really into Community.”
The best included one in which Herlihy plays a singing emergency room doctor who’s “slightly homophobic,” despite his weakness for Elton John songs. Another is set in the Dust Bowl, while another features Marshall and Higgins having an intense conversation while Herlihy eats a comically large sandwich in the background. Another highlight is a “short film” Herlihy wrote about a “medical thing” that turns out to be much funnier than you were imagining.
I could certainly see versions of some of these popping up on SNL in the future — whenever the writers’ strike gets settled — or in that Peacock movie. But these guys are supremely talented and are obviously headed for even bigger things.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.