This summer—as seemingly all of Hollywood took to the picket lines—the trio of sketch comedians collectively known as Please Don’t Destroy headed out on their first cross-country tour. Almost Famous this wasn’t: “It was really not rock star shit,” says troupe member John Higgins, whose fiancée, Emily Wilson, opened for them during the more than 25-show tour. “It was like, ‘Alright honey, let’s go to bed.’”
Sure, they went to the casino a couple of times; their bus driver even won big one night. And there was the show where an audience member threw her bra onto the stage—but they didn’t exactly play it cool. “John screamed like a middle school girl,” says Ben Marshall. “I remember being like, This is so weird, this is not the environment for this. I just wanted to not touch it.”
Higgins, Marshall, and Please Don’t Destroy’s third member, Martin Herlihy, are Zooming with me the morning that Drake decided to pose with all the bras that have been flung at him during concerts. “He had hundreds,” Higgins marvels. “We just had some nice lady who thought that we would like it.”
The guys are back in New York during a brief break in their schedule before they close out their tour with shows in Los Angeles and New York. The Saturday Night Live writers—who also produce and star in digital sketches for the NBC institution—had always planned to go on tour during their summer hiatus. But they found themselves particularly grateful to have a busy schedule when the Writers Guild of America went on strike in early May, cutting their SNL season short. “We’re very fortunate we had this tour,” says Herlihy. Higgins adds, “Doing these live shows has been really gratifying.”
As the sons of respective SNL veterans Steve Higgins and Tim Herlihy, Higgins and Herlihy have some experience with writers strikes. “I remember going to one of the pickets with dad and hanging out with Jorma Taccone from the Lonely Island,” Higgins says of the 2007-2008 work stoppage. “They were striking, they weren’t making any money, but it was the best day of my life.” In May, he once again found himself on the picket lines with his dad. (Higgins, Herlihy, and Marshall are all WGA and SAG-AFTRA members.) “It was very weird and it was devastating,” he says.
If you’re familiar with Please Don’t Destroy, it’s probably because of their viral TikToks or SNL sketches—the “Three Sad Virgins” music video they starred in alongside Pete Davidson and Taylor Swift has 9.4 million views on YouTube. But the trio, who met at NYU, got their start performing together onstage and have been enjoying returning to their roots. “We’ve been wanting to do a live tour for a while, and we just haven’t had time,” says Marshall. The trio had been busy with SNL and making a movie, Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, which will stream soon on Peacock. (They can’t talk about either because of the strikes.) “It’s been really nice to go back to performing live and connecting with a live audience.”
Please Don’t Destroy’s stage comedy is very similar to what you’ll find online, but they have a little more freedom to expand the world of their sketches and to play different kinds of characters. They also sing songs while wearing matching multicolored track suits. “It’s a different side of us,” says Higgins. The live show has evolved over time, and even changed performance to performance this summer while they were out on tour. “Every time we make something together, we learn something new that the other person is good at and then kind of add it to the vocabulary that we can pull from when we’re doing stuff,” Marshall says.
Their chemistry comes from how well they know each other. They’re not just comedy partners; for a time, Marshall and Herlihy were also roommates. “We are three people who have spent more time with each other than any three coworkers or friends should ever spend in an entire lifespan,” says Marshall. “Everything we do—our personal lives, our stage show, our videos—all bleeds into one another.”
Please Don’t Destroy will end their tour September 29 at the Town Hall, a roughly 1,500 seat theater near Times Square where Marshall remembers seeing John Mulaney perform when he was a freshman in college. “We used to do this weekly show at a bar called Von downtown where there were, I think, nine or 12 folding chairs that were usually less than half full,” he adds. “To go from that kind of a space to this is extremely exciting.”
But more than filling seats, they’re still just enjoying the experience of being onstage together. “The longer we keep doing the show, the more we’re trying to make each other laugh, which is a fun energy,” says Herlihy. “I think people like watching that too.”