A Closer Look At Papyrus

Sometimes a sketch has a life after broadcast. Sometimes it transcends its intent. And sometimes, a sketch just sticks with you in spite of everything.

I often think about this one, written by Julio Torres for Saturday Night Live.

It’s beautifully shot (in one single night by Dave McCary), well written (it holds off on the gag for over thirty seconds), and the performances are perfect.

Whats more, the whole thing is based on a throwaway tweet.

That was actually like a throwaway joke. I was using it in my standup for a couple of weeks, and then when I was talking to Ryan Gosling about what I was thinking about writing for that week, he was like, “Well what about that Papayrus thing?” and I was like, “Well, I don’t think that can be anything beyond a sentence.” But then I just sort of thought about it and I was like, “Oh, I think it can be.”

Julio Torres, Entertainment Weekly

It goes back to a good comedy writing principle that we often explore here: being very serious about something very stupid.

Even the creator of Papyrus, Chris Costello, has thoughts about it all.

I may not think about it every day like my friend Ryan, but it did bother me quite a bit at the time. Papyrus was indeed already overused in 2009, when the movie came out, and it would have been mocked regardless. Sure, they tweaked it a bit, but as Gosling points out: “IT WASN’T ENOUGH.”

Chris Costello, TechCrunch

And someone, somewhere, took it to heart. Because a year later, there was a new Avatar logo.

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