Late in its season 43 premiere, Saturday Night Live surprised viewers in the best way possible by taking on two pretentious movies — and one unbearably overused font — at once.
Host Ryan Gosling spoofed his own portrayal of a moody psychopath (with feelings!) in 2011’s Drive by portraying a man haunted by a particular design choice in James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar. The film, one of the most expensive movies ever made, had an inexplicably pedestrian film title design that typeface nerds have long been mocking: It uses Papyrus — a default computer font.
As far as fonts go, Papyrus isn’t quite as laughable as the beloved joke that is Comic Sans, but it’s pretty close. In this short but hilarious skit, Gosling’s character can’t stop obsessing over the laziness of Cameron’s decision to slap a slightly modified version of Papyrus onto a movie that cost $237 million to produce. After a failed attempt to explain the issue to his therapist, played by a baffled Kate McKinnon, we see him driving around and brooding, not unlike his character in Drive.
Eventually, he winds up stalking Cameron outside the director’s house. His distraction causes him to wreck his car — at which point he spots Cameron smirking at him from the front window. “I know what you did!” he screams at the director. And in that moment, Ryan Gosling is all of us.
The sketch quickly earned acclaim on Twitter:
Papyrus— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) October 1, 2017
rough SNL but this Avatar / Papyrus sketch might have saved my life tonight— David Sims (@davidlsims) October 1, 2017
I've been watching @nbcsnl my entire life, but 'Papyrus' was the first sketch I emotionally connected to on a profound level.— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) October 1, 2017
In an otherwise uneven evening of comedy (what was that chicken thing?), this short, sweet skit proved that SNL can occasionally still combine randomness and social satire to create sheer brilliance. Even if you don’t know what Papyrus is or haven’t seen Avatar, you’ve been in Ryan Gosling’s shoes. Maybe you’re obsessed with people calling Mad Max: Fury Road steampunk when it’s really dieselpunk. Maybe you just want people to stop calling non-brand Velcro Velcro when it’s really generic hook-and-loop. No matter your personal crusade, there’s an angry Ryan Gosling for you.
And if you just really hate Papyrus, Avatar, or both — or just pretentious filmmaking in general — then you can rest easy knowing SNL’s got your back.