We haven’t been writing about Saturday Night Live this season, because it’s usually not all that funny and also because of that other reason we wrote about back in the summer. It’s just not something that needs its signal boosted anymore than it already will be by every other website in the entire world. We try to write about what’s important or what we believe in, and overall the SNL of 2021 doesn’t really fit either.
This weekend, though, it finally had something that we feel the need to comment on, if only because every wife and every girlfriend of everybody I know responded to it in the same way. “Man Park” struck a nerve with every woman I know, who are all too familiar with the bottomless emotional need of men raised in a society that actively teaches them not to grow emotionally close to other men. In turn I and my friends all see far too much of ourselves in this one, from the meaningless circular chatter about Marvel, to the uncertainty of how much we should open ourselves up to any man we haven’t already known for decades.
I’m pretty sure this had to have been written by some of the 30something women who work on the show right now. From the very start, when a too eager Pete Davidson jumps up when Ego Nwodim walks through the door and immediately accosts her with excited greetings and non sequiturs like “Dune?”, my wife felt this thing more than she’s ever felt any SNL sketch in her entire life. (Although if it was us the “Dune” would be replaced with some dumb wrestling thing that she patiently acts like she cares about.) She’s pretty sure she could have written this one herself, which I assume almost all women thought after seeing it.
The reaction to this video reinforces why comedy can’t rest on simple observation alone. You can’t just refer to something; you need to take that observation that other people would be familiar with, and then actually do something funny with the idea. It’s not enough to just observe that men are raised to swallow their emotions until they can spew them out all over their romantic partner and nobody else; you need to use that as the basis for a larger idea, which the sketch does with the concept of a dog park for emotionally stunted boyfriends and husbands.
If you haven’t seen “Man Park,” and want to see how closely it resembles your life and relationship, check it out below. And if you see too much of yourself in Davidson or Alex Moffat, know that I’m in the same boat, and we can both get better if we try. Just don’t expect me to talk to you about any of this that much; I can handle this on my own, pal.