Dick in a Box

Dick in a Box

"Dick in a Box"
Single by The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake
from the album Incredibad
Released December 16, 2006
Format Digital download
Recorded November 2006
Genre Comedy, R&B
Length 2:41
Label Universal Republic
Writer(s) Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Asa Taccone, Justin Timberlake, Katreese Barnes
Producer(s) Jorma Taccone, Katreese Barnes, Asa Taccone
The Lonely Island singles chronology
"Dick in a Box"
"Jizz in My Pants"
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"My Love"
"Dick in a Box"
"What Goes Around... Comes Around"

"Dick in a Box" is a song by American comedy troupe The Lonely Island featuring singer Justin Timberlake. The song and music video debuted on Saturday Night Live as an SNL Digital Short on December 16, 2006. The video depicts two early-1990s R&B ballad singers Andy (Andy Samberg) and Raif (Justin Timberlake) crooning a holiday song about making a gift for their girlfriends of their penises which they have wrapped in boxes (strategically placed) and topped with bows.

The song originated from Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels, who asked Samberg to write a track to showcase Timberlake's singing abilities. "Dick in a Box" was recorded in one night while its music video filmed the following day. After being screened by NBC executives for content, the short debuted less than a few hours later. In its original network airing, the word "dick", a recurring word in the chorus, was bleeped 16 times.

Saturday Night Live producers made the decision to publish the uncensored version of the short online after its broadcast debut under the titles “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box”. Like its predecessor, "Lazy Sunday", "Dick in a Box" became a major viral hit on the Internet. It received a very favorable audience and critical reception. The song won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.[1] The popularity of the short led to ongoing collaborations with Timberlake in his succeeding SNL visits, in 2009 with "Motherlover" and "3-Way (The Golden Rule)" in 2011.

Plot and style

Justin Timberlake in the "Dick in a Box" video.

The music video portrays two balladeers (played by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake) singing about giving Christmas gifts to their sweethearts (played by Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, respectively). Each singer has a gift-wrapped box attached to his waist. The lyrics include step-by-step instructions on how to create the "gift" (1: "Cut a hole in a box", 2: "Put your junk in that box", 3: "Make her open the box... and that's the way you do it!"). They also sing about how a "dick in a box" is better than other gifts and is suitable for any holiday or occasion. At the end of the film, they are both arrested and taken away by the NYPD, presumably for indecent exposure, after they bring their boxes "backstage at the CMAs".

The style of the video and the musical performance is inspired by early 1990s R&B/new jack swing acts like Color Me Badd, Jodeci and R. Kelly; The Lonely Island and Timberlake were fans of such acts while growing up.[2] The premise also resembles a scene in the 1982 Barry Levinson film Diner, in which Mickey Rourke places his penis inside a box of popcorn at a movie theater to win a bet,[3] and a scene in the 1980 Claude Pinoteau film La Boum, in which a junior high school student performs an identical act for fun.


"He basically came up with the hook [...] I had a loose melody and he took the reigns [sic] and schooled us on how to record and make it sound fantastic. He added pauses to make it more catchy. And that 'Midday at the grocery store' line? That was his."

—Samberg, discussing Timberlake's influence on the song[2]

The song began development on the Tuesday before the show's airdate (December 12), when Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels called Andy Samberg into his office and asked him to try to "write something funny" to showcase the singing skills of Timberlake, both the host and musical guest.[4] The song featured was written and produced by Timberlake and Samberg, fellow Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, Taccone's brother Asa Taccone, and associate music director Katreese Barnes. Samberg said the writing team originally came up with a different idea for Timberlake, but show honcho Lorne Michaels insisted they exploit his musical side. Taccone came up with the "dick in a box" premise.[2] Samberg, along with Schaffer and Taccone, presented a rough draft of the song to Timberlake on Thursday afternoon, and, after reworking it to Timberlake's specifications, Samberg and Timberlake recorded the song in Samberg's office around midnight that night. According to Samberg, Timberlake "didn't even blink" upon hearing the idea, and was immediately receptive to recording it.[2] Timberlake recalled that the musicians were "laughing hysterically" during its production, and that the "delirium of no sleep" contributed to the humor of the song.[5] Though his voice cracked a few times during recording and he was a bit nervous working with Timberlake, Samberg said his "insanely" easygoing attitude put him at ease.[2] The duo spent much of Friday and Saturday filming the music video in and around New York City, and it was not until 4pm on the day of the show's broadcast — less than eight hours before the show was to go live — was the video in sufficient shape to be shown to the NBC executive responsible for late-night programming, Rick Ludwin.[4]

The show's producers had already concluded on their own that the video would have to be bleeped to be broadcast, but had a special request for Ludwin: would they be given permission to make the uncensored version available online. Ludwin's first instinct was that they shouldn't, but upon seeing the video with a representative from the NBC legal department, he found himself laughing and realized that those searching on the Internet specifically for the video would not be shocked.[4] The material was still touchy enough that Ludwin sought final approval for the Web version of the video from Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, and Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBCUniversal Television Group, both of whom approved the idea. Another executive suggested that a disclaimer be placed before the Web-only version of the video that warned of its explicit content, a proposal that was immediately accepted.[4] The video was edited most of Saturday, in time for its television debut.[5]


An uncensored version was made available on the Saturday Night Live website after the show was aired.[6]

NBC added the video to YouTube, where it received more than 28 million views. At least 18 additional copies were also posted to various YouTube and Google Video accounts,[7] bringing the total views to over 35.3 million.[8] On October 21, 2007, NBC took down its YouTube channel in preparation for the launch of Hulu.[9]

On December 22, 2006, the Parents Television Council called on NBC to "rethink its decision to post an uncensored version of a Saturday Night Live sketch on both its own website and YouTube".[10] When the sketch aired on SNL, NBC bleeped out the word dick a total of 16 times.[11]

Some radio stations played the edited version (called "Junk in a Box") as an unofficial single by Timberlake. The version used was recorded from the SNL broadcast.

The song won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.[1] After being notified of his Emmy win, Timberlake performed the song at his concert at the Tacoma Dome in Washington.[12]

David Jeffries called it "The smart mimicry of teen pop" and highlighted it.[13]

Timberlake and Samberg have since performed the song live several times together. At the Peoples' Choice Awards, Timberlake also made a reference to the song after winning the award for his single SexyBack instead.


Single by The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake
from the album Turtleneck & Chain
Released May 9, 2009 (broadcast)
April 19, 2011 (single)
Format Digital download
Recorded May 7–8, 2009
Length 2:49
Label Universal Republic
Writer(s) Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Drew Campbell, Asa Taccone, Justin Timberlake
Producer(s) No I.D., Justin Timberlake, Drew Money
The Lonely Island singles chronology
"We're Back!"
"Turtleneck & Chain"
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"


"Motherlover" is the first sequel to "Dick in a Box". It debuted on Saturday Night Live as an SNL Digital Short on May 9, 2009. The song finds the two ballad singers singing of their desire to have sex with each other's mothers (Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon) as the ultimate tribute to Mother's Day. Set five months after the events of "Dick in a Box", the video opens with them being released from jail, only to be faced with the quandary of what to get their respective mothers for Mother's Day.

The short was an effort between the two artists during a sleepless week of writing, recording and shooting before it aired. The song was written by The Lonely Island (Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer) with Timberlake on the Tuesday before the short's premiere. Samberg and Timberlake recorded the song in an all-night session two days later, with a 20-hour video shoot commencing the next day. Schaffer began editing the footage early Saturday morning and only completed the short within minutes of its broadcast debut, finalizing the video while the show was already live.

Released the day before Mother's Day 2009, the video was an immediate viral hit, in the same vein of its predecessor. The song was released as a single shortly before the release of The Lonely Island's sophomore record, Turtleneck & Chain.[14]

Both versions of "Motherlover" were praised by David Jeffries of AllMusic.[15][16]

3-Way (The Golden Rule)

Parodies and homages

The band Incubus covered the song while on their 2006 Light Grenades Tour.[17]

Umphrey's McGee covered the song, complete with box props, as the first song of their encore on December 31, 2006 show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, with percussionist Andy Farag contributing vocals in the Andy Samberg role and Brendan Bayliss singing Justin Timberlake's part. The multi-camera video is available on YouTube.[18]

Chapter 6 of the hentai manga "Takusan Meshiagare, Goshujin-sama!" by Maidoll (Fei) references the song at the first page.

In "Koi Pond", the sixth season Halloween episode of The Office, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) dresses in a suit with a silk shirt and gold chains, with a box wrapped as a present attached to his waist.

On an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, DeGeneres performed a jingle for AQUA2GO water drink boxes to the tune of "Dick in a Box".[19][20]

Facebook created a virtual gift shop for Valentine's Day that included a box with a bow on top and a hole cut into one of its sides.[21][22]

A parody from the female perspective, Leah Kauffman's "My Box in a Box", appeared on YouTube and has since been viewed over 4.5 million times.[23] On January 8, 2007, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Olbermann called "My Box in a Box" the "#1 most viralest video" in the world. The video received press coverage in a wide variety of media, including Rolling Stone[24] and Cosmopolitan.[25]

The internet comedy series "Web Zeroes" made a number of references during its initial episode in October 2009, beginning with the character Alex singing the "step 1" line in response to a "how" question.[26]


Chart (2009) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[27] 82


  1. ^ a b "2007 Creative Arts Emmy winners" (PDF) (Press release).   (page 10)
  2. ^ a b c d e Gil Kaufman (December 20, 2006). Star Behind Timberlake's Raunchy Hit Hopes To 'Box' Up Full LP"SNL".  
  3. ^ Gordon, Devin (2007-08-13). "Is It Too 'Hot' In Here?".   ([1])
  4. ^ a b c d Jaques Steinberg (December 21, 2006). Sketch Jumps Bleepless Onto the Internet"SNL"Censored .  
  5. ^ a b "Timberlake On 'N Sync, Acting And Bringing Sexy Back".  
  6. ^ "Dick in a Box - Uncensored Version".  
  7. ^ "NewTeeVee - Where to Find Good Video". NewTeeVee. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  8. ^ "Vidmeter All Time Top 100". Vidmeter. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  9. ^ "NBC Pulls YouTube Channel". ValleyWag. 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  10. ^ "PTC Criticizes NBC for Posting Uncensored "Saturday Night Live" Sketch on the Internet" (Press release).  
  11. ^ "PTC Puts NBC on Naughty List". Comcast News. 2006-12-22. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  12. ^ Hilton, Perez (September 9, 2007). "He's A Winner Too!". Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  13. ^ Jeffries, David "The Lonely Island: Incredibad". AllMusic. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Lonely Island: Chattin' with Joni: Motherlover on iTunes!". Thelonelyisland.blogspot.com. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  15. ^ Jeffries, David. "The Lonely Island: Turtleneck & Chain". AllMusic. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  16. ^ Greenwald, Andy (May 4, 2011). "Music Review: Turtleneck & Chain (2011)". Entertainment Weekly.
  17. ^ "Incubus Setlist". ncubus-online-view.com. 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  18. ^ "Umphrey's McGee - Dick in a Box - 12/31/2006".  
  19. ^ "AQUA2GO Press Releases".  
  20. ^ "Ellen's Aqua2Go Commercial".  
  21. ^ "Facebook Gift Shop".   (subscription access required)
  22. ^ "20.png".  
  23. ^ "My Box in a Box".  
  24. ^ "My Box is in Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. January 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  25. ^ "Cosmopolitan July '07: My Box is an Overnight Success".  
  26. ^ "Web Zeroes: Cast Aways".  
  27. ^ "The Lonely Island Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for The Lonely Island. Retrieved 2013-04-13.

External links

  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • Dick in a Box (official video)

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