Please Don’t Destroy Return to “SNL” — With Brendan Gleeson in Tow

The combination worked better than you'd expect

Please Don't Destroy with Brendan Gleeson
Please Don't Destroy with Brendan Gleeson on "Saturday Night Live."

Earlier this week, Saturday Night Live released a wonderfully unexpected teaser for this weekend’s episode. Two things about it come to mind immediately: first, it was done in the style of a 90s skateboarding video, complete with fisheye lens; and second, it starred this week’s host, Brendan Gleeson — not someone you’d expect to see channel their inner Tony Hawk.

Gleeson brings a lot of the same qualities to the show that Willem Dafoe did last season — he might not be the zeitgeist-y choice, but he is incredibly versatile. (And, if his monologue is any indication, he also has charm to spare.) And in a sketch that paired Gleeson with Please Don’t Destroy, Gleeson’s range elevated the material in weird and compelling ways.

The premise of the sketch is simple: four friends at a party think about how great their senior year in high school is about to be, apparently unaware that one of them is ever-so-slightly older than the rest. To an extent, it’s a spin on the “how do you do, fellow kids?” scene from 30 Rock. But Gleeson also manages to make the gist of his character — an aging Irishman who decided it might be fun to go back to high school — oddly believable.

There are also some memorable small details in there as well — Gleeson’s character’s choice of school lunch and the line “You’re from New Jersey — your name is Tommy ‘Porkchop’ Puggiano” in particular. But Gleeson’s willingness to play realism in the midst of the absurd ends up making the whole thing that much funnier.

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