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What's key to the absurdly funny 'SNL' clips, and movie, from Please Don't Destroy? Friendship

Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

So these three guys met at New York University in 2016. Fueled by a shared love of films like "Wet Hot American Summer," "School of Rock" and "Napoleon Dynamite," as well as chicken tenders in a Brooklyn basement, a three-headed monster baby known as the comedy trio Please Don't Destroy was born.

Or something like that.

And now the monster baby's videos have become a regular highlight of "Saturday Night Live."

It helps that two of the guys — John Higgins, 27, and Martin Herlihy, 25 — have showbiz lineages as the sons of, respectively, Steve Higgins (a writer and producer on "SNL" since 1995) and Tim Herlihy (another "SNL" figure best known as an Adam Sandler collaborator of nearly 30 years). And now it seems the third member, Ben Marshall, 28, is the son of Conan O'Brien — at least, the version of him in the trio's first feature film, "Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain," that's now streaming on Peacock. In the movie, three 20-something guys, also named John, Martin and Ben, go in search of a treasure on, you guessed it, Foggy Mountain. Which, truthfully, isn't particularly foggy.

And before you start with the "nepo baby" argument, their short videos, which began as clips posted on TikTok and Twitter often depicting their failures at adulting, have been a big hit since they started appearing on "SNL" in 2021. They have millions and millions of views on YouTube, regularly outdrawing postings of full "Weekend Update" segments. Sure, the one with more than 12 million views happens to have Taylor Swift in it ("Three Sad Virgins"), but others have major viewership — including one called "Self-Defense" in which the guys attend a class led by a terrifying instructor played by Travis Kelce (pre-" Tayvis"), and one where Bad Bunny reveals his abiding love for Shrek. Even videos that don't highlight a host have racked up big numbers, by showcasing their signature, bizarrely self-effacing sense of humor. So there.

The trio chatted with the L.A. Times about their videos, their movie and their friendship. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

 

Q: How did you three initially bond?

Ben Marshall: I was in an NYU-based sketch group called Hammerkatz with John, and I remember us just really clicking on this one trip to Brown, where we were doing a show. Martin and I started doing stand-up together around the same time. Then eventually the three of us went to this party in Brooklyn and stayed way later than everyone else and ended up sleeping in the basement and eating chicken tenders and cracking up together, super-late at night. We were just like, "Oh, I think that we really like each other. This feels special."

John Higgins: It was the energy that's in the movie — that sleepover-boy energy where anything and everything is kind of silly. I remember eating a ton of chicken tenders, though.

Martin Herlihy: I remember I was sleeping on what essentially was the bottom of a couch, if you took the cushions off. And I remember John making fun of that.

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