why the lightning-fast absurdity of the sketch trio is the future of the series.

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Shortly before comedy sketch trio Please Don’t Destroy were added to the cast of Saturday Night Live, SNL’s Heidi Gardner told a reporter profiling the group that she “almost felt embarrassed at how quickly I became a fan.” After seeing them live (pre-pandemic) and immersing herself in their Twitter and TikToks posts, Gardner said she might even see them on SNL one day, not knowing that day was only a few away. month.

Please Don’t Destroy debuted on SNL in October with a skit titled “Hard Seltzer.” dropped at the end of Kim Kardashian’s episode in the show’s famous “10 to 1” slot, the period towards the end of each episode usually reserved for weird experimental sketches. At the first viewing, it is quite shocking for viewers who do not know the group in advance; set apart from the rest of the episode by a title titled “A Please Don’t Destroy Video”, the skit features no established cast members and gives the viewer about four seconds of intro before diving into its main joke. . Martin says he’s having a hard seltzer, John asks what kind, and Martin replies with a straight face, “Just a JC Penney.”

What follows is a common structure in sketch comedy: a bewildered John continues to ask questions and the other two give increasingly absurd explanations, delivered as if nothing is out of the ordinary. The basic character dynamics should be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched SNL, but it’s done with an efficiency that puts the rest of the show to shame. “Hard Seltzer” lasts less than two minutes and not a moment is wasted. The beat starts off steady at first, then the cuts get faster and faster to create a speed and energy not even seen in other pre-recorded sketches on SNL. Even the little moments between main jokes, like Ben walking into the room and saying “Ben in the house!” in a parody of the kind of silly banter close friends have with each other, feeling unique and entirely calculated.

On the Live From New York subreddit, SNL fans have a weekly thread on Sundays where they rank sketches from the previous night’s episode. Despite its time slot, “Hard Seltzer” climbed to the top. This trend has continued throughout the season, with even time-cutting PD sketches like “Rummy Wants a Treat” making the top three. The trio also work as writers for the entire show, responsible for live skits such as “Matress Store” and “Men’s Room”, both of which immediately became fan favorites. Every sketch they are involved in has a similar sense of escalating surrealism that helped make I think you should leave such success, combined with the speed and energy of The Lonely Island added to the show in the mid-2000s.

“Hard Seltzer” felt particularly fresh in its placement at the end of Kim Kardashian’s episode, which otherwise featured sketches that relied heavily on cameo appearances and locals that had dragged on for far too long. It was the same episode as “Dream Guy,” a seven-and-a-half-minute mess where a series of celebrities were each greeted with polite applause, got to say a few lines, and then walked off stage. This sort of thing became especially common throughout the Trump years, where the chill opened up as each episode came to a halt as celebrity after celebrity entered to play a political figure. Actors like Robert De Niro or Ben Stiller would show up halfway through the skit and spend 10 or 15 seconds waiting for the applause to die down before they could continue with their lines.

The renewed emphasis on casting is part of why SNL’s new season felt so fresh overall. Aside from the Kardashian episode, the 47th season avoided celebrity cameos, allowing more cast members to take lead roles in cold opens. Some of that may just be COVID-related, because it’s easier for the show’s very tight production schedule to run smoothly when nearly everyone involved has been following the same safety measures all season, but that’s not the only area where the show has changed recently. None of the monologues relied on musical snippets or fanciful audience Q&As, two crutches that monologue writers seemed to rely on throughout the 2010s. (The episode hosted by Ariana DeBose the week last featured a musical monologue, but in fairness to the show, it has been there to promote a real musical.) While the political content previously seemed more concerned with getting people up in the Trump administration than being funny, the show as a whole this season has started to lean more into the weird and absurd sensibilities seen in a PDD sketch.

That’s not to say there aren’t still issues with the rest of the live broadcast. There’s still no shortage of sketches that are essentially a joke repeated with slight variations for five minutes straight, and it’s common for sketches to end without a proper conclusion. And perhaps because pandemic protocols limit rehearsal time, it’s never seemed more obvious that most performers read their lines off cue cards. Most fans accept these as inevitable limitations of the show, but it became less tolerable after watching PDD avoid all these issues every time they go on the air.

It is possible, however, that the style of Please Don’t Destroy cannot be fully reproduced. After all, most of the techniques that allow them to infuse so much energy into their sketches aren’t available for live performance. The trio reportedly filmed dozens of takes every few seconds of footage in an effort to get the perfect shot, the perfect delivery of the line. This is at odds with the format of most of the show’s sketches, where timing and delivery vary from dress rehearsal to live show.

However, Please Don’t Destroy’s digital format is only part of its appeal, and SNL has never been afraid to change things up. In response to the rise of internet content, the show began producing digital sketches. In response to its expanding cast, the series began to have more skits like “Karaoke All-Stars” or “Jurassic Park Auditions”, designed to give each cast member a guaranteed quick time in the spotlight. . The show’s pace also gradually picked up throughout its run; in 1998, the beloved sketch “Schweddy Balls” took over two minutes to get to its main joke, something that would be a rarity on the show today. SNL is barely recognizable from what it looked like when it premiered 47 years ago, and it’s the show’s ability to evolve that has kept it going. While the live-action format of most of its sketches is here to stay, it’s not hard to imagine the show embracing the non-technical aspects of PDD’s appeal. Look no further than the “Men’s Room” skit co-written by PDD; even though the actors have to work to the laughter of the live audience, the skit still has the tight writing and ever-escalating premise that makes skits like “Hard Seltzer” work so well.

The rise of Please Don’t Destroy comes at a time when Lorne Michaels is considering retiring as the show’s longtime lead producer, sparking speculation about who will take his place as lead producer and how that will happen. would affect the series in the future. With Gen Z making up a growing percentage of potential viewers, the show’s survival will come down to figuring out what made PDD so successful. It’s not about constant cameos from older celebrities, or making references to whatever the kids on TikTok are talking about this week. It’s about embracing the silly, fast-paced, and sometimes silly humor Gen Z is known to love and create. SNL may not be all PDD sketches, but a showrunner who embraces the trio’s style as much as possible seems like a smart bet for the upcoming show. At the very least, stop cutting them for the time.

Five sketches to know please don’t destroy

  1. Roast with my boys

  2. I have been vaccinated!!!

  3. Martin the documentary

  4. Three Sad Virgins (ft. Taylor Swift)

  5. Touching up

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