After gracing our social media timelines with their surreal videos for years, the members of comedy troupe Please Don't Destroy have spent this season gleefully disrupting Saturday Night Live. True to form, they've delivered a series of digital shorts with bizarre set-ups, rapid-fire gags, and a willingness to push things to the very edge of lunacy. For some, their style is way too out there, but for others it's a promising vision of SNL's future.
To help quantify their excellence, here are all of Please Don't Destroy's SNL videos to date, ranked from least to most deliciously insane.
The set-up is promising: Guys in over-the-top goth outfits do everyday things, set to the soundtrack of a cheesy sitcom. There are some funny riffs on that idea, but unlike most Please Don't Destroy clips, this one doesn't evolve beyond its initial premise. It feels like any half-decent comedy writer with the title "Three Normal Goths" could have come up with this material.
It's a got a few nice touches, like the old-timey use of the world "girlie," but this is a bit too mean-spirited for our taste. It suggests that underneath their goofy exteriors, the dudes in PDD are barely controlling their desire to insult their girlfriends. That's not how they usually come across, so we'll write it off as a not so great idea..
There are better sketches in which the guys portray thenselves as losers (see below), but when their future selves come back to visit them, they at least arrive in hilariously awful outfits and wigs.
Come for the impersonation of a sassy southern waitress, stay for the part where John Higgins does Oscar-caliber work as a skeevey guy trying to hit on you at the mall.
Rami Malek is a chaotic good time in this sketch about how we wants to be rewarded for good behavior. He was also the first celebrity guest to appear with PDD, and he ends up pointing the way for how they can utilize an SNL host.
This was the first Please Don't Destroy sketch on SNL, and like several other videos on this list, it begins as a critique of a current cultural trend before descending into anarchy. In other words, it underlines that these guys are mostly lampooning our need to have performative opinions about whatever's trending this week.
With an all-star cast that includes Paul Rudd, John Mulaney, and Al "Forty-Hands" Roker, this fantasy about a COVID variant that makes everything awesome boasts a real-life Pokemon AND a throwaway joke about party subs. It's a good litmus test for PDD's style: If you think this is funny, then this group is probably for you. If you don't, then now is the time to bail.
As soon as you see Ben Marshall walk in with his Joker-level botox, you know the sketch is going to build to the other guys revealing their own insane physical alterations. The final beat is so out there that it more than rewards our anticipation.
The first PDD SNL masterpiece, this sketch utilizes some nifty effects and Taylor Swift's star power to turn a gag about the guys being losers into something truly spectacular. Any sketch that includes one of the catchiest pop hooks of the year deserves respect.
First, it's always funny when people start screaming and destroying their workspace. That's just science. Second, Paul Dano's subplot about starring in a movie inspired by PDD is so insanely enjoyable that it could've been its own video. Third, in a sketch crammed with jokes, the two funniest moments somehow go to a cat. There's no social critique in this one, but lunacy can be its own reward.
The idea of PDD's Martin Herlihy becoming best bros with a 10 year-old named Connor is already funny, but this sketch turns it from a one-laugh idea into a three-act play. The structure is so strong that it makes room for tons of little gags, from the fact that nobody seems to know what "tapas" means to the wind that blows in Connor's hair at a key heroic moment. Plus, there are some sly jabs about so-called offensive humor that almost dare us to get mad. This is Please Don't Destroy at their best.
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Mark Blankenship has been writing about arts and culture for twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, Fortune, and many others. You can hear him on the pop music podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs.