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Why Do the Men of ‘SNL’ Live in Such Horrifying Apartments?

Why Do the Men of ‘SNL’ Live in Such Horrifying Apartments?

Photo-Illustration: Curbed; Photos: Getty

On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that America’s favorite funnyman, Colin Jost (we’re kidding), sold his West Village duplex for $2.5 million. Jost bought the place in 2011, six years after he joined Saturday Night Live as a writer, and the photos from the listing make the place look kind of … eh? Jost furnished his home like someone who doesn’t know what to do with his design budget. The main floor has a love seat awkwardly jammed into a corner and a sad little starter-kit breakfast table blocking the Juliet-balcony doors. The cramped kitchen cabinets are done in a confusing yellow, the kind that exists only in the natural world for tropical frogs to signal, “Don’t eat me! I’m poisonous!” The “primary bedroom” has cold pre-reno tile floors, and the other bedroom has a very ugly bed facing a bathtub. In the bedroom. At the foot of the bed. Grimmest of all is the little basement den, decorated with only a menacing floor lamp and a lonely and presumably autographed football poised on the TV console. By my count, Jost’s home has two indoor shrubs, one old-timey washboard leaned against a window, one magazine folder with no magazines in it, six coupes on the bar cart, and zero books. It’s not much of a surprise that the place has no signs of human life — not because Jost isn’t a real boy but because he has most likely spent the past few years crashing at his wife, Scarlett Johansson’s, place. Just look at their well-appointed elevated-suburban fake home in the Super Bowl commercial they made for Amazon this year: That’s how we expect an established celebrity with a steady TV income who is married to one of the highest-paid actresses in the world to live.

Therein lies at least one answer to the question we’ve been asking ourselves at Curbed: Why do the men of SNL live in such horrifying apartments? It could be, as in Jost’s case, that they tend to date up, somehow luring out-of-their-league stars into relationships: segment director Dave McCary and Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, Dan Aykroyd and Carrie Fisher, Pete Davidson and … everyone. Again and again, these guys re-create the early-aughts sitcom dynamic of zhlub-y funny dude with traditionally beautiful partner. If you’ve ever had a roommate whose flop boyfriend was over all the time because his own place was an unimaginable hellhole, the couples of SNL are that writ large (and with much higher rents).

Davidson’s home has always been central to his lore. For several years into his time at SNL, he still lived with his mom — and not only that: He lived in the basement at his mom’s house. This was a Rorschach test: You could view it as a red flag or as Davidson being a humble mama’s boy unaffected by fame. But during that time, he dated Cazzie David, Ariana Grande, Kate Beckinsale, and Margaret Qualley, all of whom, I suspect, had homes above ground where he could stay, freeing Davidson to leave his dump unchanged. (Actually, I think David might have still been living at home as well. They were so good for each other.)

In December 2020, Davidson bought a place of his own, a $1.2 million two-bedroom condo in Staten Island. The place had been staged pretty strangely: sickly princess-purple accent walls paired with a dining set done in a washed-out aqua, a stodgy dark-brown bedroom set, and a humble strip of Astroturf out on his water-facing patio. By the time he put it up for sale in 2022, he had redecorated, painted over the purple, and added a Foosball table and — inevitably — a frat-house black leather couch. Once again, an SNL boy was upgrading his living situation after getting together with an A-list partner: in this case, Kim K.

The Foosball and the couch hint at another answer to the question of questionable SNL men’s housing: These guys live on a college-student schedule. SNL cast, writers, and producers work through the night on Tuesdays and long into the evening for the rest of the week from October through May. The tight production schedule on each episode is structured so that the team lives in a perpetual state of term-paper cramming. Glimpses into their office spaces and routines give off a sense that these guys never left the Lampoon house, instead just bringing it with them to midtown. Just as a dorm room has transience built in, so do the homes of these SNL men. Similarly, that rule-breaking mind-set of a first apartment or frat home, one that pushes the boundaries of what a dwelling space should be, is reflected in some of their design choices.

As can be seen in — and you should take a deep breath here — Jimmy Fallon’s old place.

In 2002, four years into his SNL tenure, Fallon bought a unit in a Gramercy Park co-op for $850,000. Simple enough? No. Over the next two decades, as his career moved from SNL to The Tonight Show, Fallon bought up three other units across three stories of the building, stitching them together like a madman into a true Frankenstein’s monster of a triplex. When Fallon listed the place for sale for $15 million in 2021, photos revealed a true Mr. Magorium’s Horrorium of intricately planned eccentricity. There was a plaid-lined room centered around an antler chandelier befitting Gaston; a pantry lined with busy cowboy wallpaper, stocked with approximately 500 cans of Progresso soup, and featuring a tiny door that appears to be meant for child waiters; and a stair runner that looks as if someone skinned the aliens from Avatar. These weren’t touches of whimsy; they were battering rams of whimsy, a manically eclectic approach to interior design that suggests some sort of psychic influence from Studio 8H, where every week a dozen sets ranging from outer space to fake game shows are built up and torn down.

His Hamptons home, meanwhile, has a slide where stairs should be. It makes the Big loft look positively minimalist.

Beck Bennett showed off his Los Angeles home in a May 2020 episode of SNL at Home, when cast members were jury-rigging together sketches from their respective isolation pods. The place is a mixture of nice and kinda shitty that feels almost refreshingly normal. The sketch is a parody of an Architectural Digest celebrity home tour: He has a fairly nice (in a Restoration Hardware kind of way) dining table, but it’s cluttered with household detritus, and a messy bookshelf looks like it sees actual traffic. The moldings are pretty, but the blinds are cheap. A fireplace in vomit-brown tiles is used to store miscellaneous junk. He spends the final minute of the video just pointing out cracks in the walls. I live like this. Maybe you live like this. But I don’t make half a million dollars (give or take) per year.

Writer Julio Torres, recently departed from the show, is the exception that proves the rule. Torres’s work, including SNL sketches like “Papyrus” and “The Sink,” concerns itself with the comedic potential of aesthetics and design. His mother is an architect and fashion designer, his sister is a designer, and Torres collaborates with them and his artist friends on custom pieces for his apartment and office, favoring unconventional shapes and primary colors. It takes such unique levels of prepossession and thoughtfulness to overcome the curse of Torres’s straight SNL counterparts and their sad spaces. But to the rest of these men of SNL, we say, damn, bitch, you live like this?