Photo-Illustration: Selman Hoşgör; Photo Courtesy of Subject
This week, we’re highlighting 22 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual list “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. (You can read more about our methodology at the link above.) We asked the comedians on the list to answer a series of questions about their work, comedy during the pandemic, and more. Next up is Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, and Ben Marshall, a.k.a. Please Don’t Destroy.
When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?
John: As soon as I slid out of my mom. Immediately doing bits, making the doctors and nurses laugh. It was just physical shit, like doing a funny dance and using my umbilical cord as a lasso or whatever.
Ben: For me it was getting cast on Hammerkatz.
Martin: What the fuck is Hammerkatz?
Ben: It’s the NYU sketch group that you didn’t make it onto.
Martin: Sounds hilarious!
Describe your comedy in five words.
All: Teaching Valuable Lessons Through Humor.
What of your work do you think you’re best known for, and what of your work are you most proud of?
John and Martin: Ben’s vaccine video.
Ben: When John said “baba booey” in Ghostbusters.
All: But we’re probably most proud of our first SNL video, “Hard Seltzer.”
Martin: I am most proud of when John said “baba booey” in Ghostbusters.
If there were a ’90s-style sitcom built around you and your material, in which you had to have a different job than comedian, what would be the title and logline?
Martin: The show would be called Boy House and our job would be being roommates. Logline: “Hijinks and hilarity ensue when three roomies become unlikely housemates.”
What have you done for comedy during COVID that you thought you would never do?
Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?
All: Emily Wilson, Moss Perricone, Rachel Sennott, Dima Kronfeld, Shalewa Sharpe, William Banks, Caro Yost, Ayo Edebiri, Carmen Christopher, Brittany Carney, Zach Zucker, everyone in the groups Lisa, Simple Town, Ladies Who Ranch, all the cast and writers at SNL except Sarah Squirm. JK, Sarah, luv u, CLANG CLANG!
What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?
John: Best advice I think is to start a weekly live show and get feedback on your work from people you think are funny. Also I like the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Ben: Worst advice: “Any accent is fair game.”
Martin: Worst advice: John keeps telling me if I wanna be funny I have to “get into drugs.”
Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.
Ben: I’ll take this one, guys. When I was 13, I started writing the script to my famous “Dumbrekka” vaccine video. I worked on it tirelessly until I was 26, and finally released it to the public — to a stunning reception.
Martin: Jesus, you’re 26?
What’s an embarrassingly earnest goal you have?
John: To work with my friends Ben and Martin until we group suicide at age 80.
Martin: That was mine, too.
If you had the power to remove anything from the comedy world right now, from trends with material to how the industry operates, what would it be?
John: Finally you asked this question. The RULE OF THREE!
Martin: I wanna see a lot more comedy that is intentionally inaccessible. I love comedians who have genuine contempt for people who they don’t deem cool enough to enjoy their shit. Just kidding, that sucks!
All: It should be easier for people who aren’t as privileged as us to start doing comedy. Starting in comedy was hard, and we had it easier than anybody: We’re three white guys who went to NYU, and two of us grew up with parents in comedy (John Leguizamo and ALF). Theaters and clubs need to pay performers for their work and networks need to give more opportunities to underrepresented voices. It’s impossible to go to open mics and shows every night, make videos on social media, etc., if you’re working three jobs to survive. So, I guess increase the minimum wage and give people free health care? Then comedy will be better.
Ben: All in all, we want to see more Trump material in the Biden era.