Top Ten Times SNL Castmembers Broke Character

by Hannah Harrison

I am a big Saturday Night Live (SNL) fan. I have a poster in my room and I will often quote sketches in regular conversation- much to my friend’s dismay. While I love when the cast members totally commit to the character and never break, sometimes it is hilarious to see professional comedians break into laughter. In all honesty, sometimes that is the funniest part of the sketch. Here are my top ten picks of when cast members of SNL broke on live television!

10. Inside the Beltway

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2019

This sketch had the potential to be forgotten amongst SNL’s stronger political sketches. However, a small mishap at 4:40 occurs leaving Aidy Bryant in a fit of giggles that was obviously contagious to other cast members, and we are grateful for it.

9. Super Showcase Spokesmodels

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2012

SNL legends Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig play Shonda and Vhonda, showcase models in a parody sketch of The Price is Right. My favorite part about the sketch is that from the beginning you can see Wiig try to stifle her laughter at Rudolph’s hilarious accent. Stay tuned for a ridiculous gold cart moment!

8. The Love-ahs with Barbara and Dave

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2001

Member of the famous SNL five-timer club, Drew Barrymore makes a hilarious appearance in the iconic Love-ahs sketch. It is a great example of staying committed to a character. What makes this sketch even better is that Will Ferrell was purposely trying to make Jimmy Fallon laugh by poking him with his foot underwater.

7. Short Term Memory Loss Theater

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2013

Here we have another hilarious example of a cast member trying to get their fellow actor to break. Bill Hader’s character believes that his short-term memory loss patients have overcome their struggles and to prove it, has them perform a play. Of course, his plan doesn’t go as planned. Watch as Fred Armisen improvises a bit with a jacket in order to (successfully) make Bill Hader break!

6. New Girlfriend

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2016

In this sketch, Fred Armisen plays Regine, Michael’s (played by Jason Sudeikis) new girlfriend. Armisen plays the person we’d all hate to be around so well and so obnoxiously that other cast members are barely able to keep it together.

5. Jeffrey’s with Sean Hayes

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2001

Sean Hayes and Jimmy Fallon play pretentious retail workers at the trendy store Jeffrey’s. Their snide marks to paying customers are hilarious, but the duo manage to keep it together. That is, until Will Ferrell enters the room on his electric wheelchair.

4. The Californians: Stuart Has Cancer

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2012

As someone born and raised in Southern California, this sketch felt incredibly accurate. From the (over-the-top) accent to the way we reference all the freeways that can get you to your desired location, the writers really nailed it. About a minute in, Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader all begin to break character, and there is no hiding it. I have to say, every time they say “What are YOU doing here?” I find myself in a fit of laughter.

3. Close Encounter

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2015

When three citizens are abducted and promptly returned by aliens, they are naturally brought in for questioning. However, following the rule of three, Kate McKinnon’s character seems to have had a very different experience than her friends. Her timing and delivery make it almost impossible for her castmates to go without breaking character. McKinnon herself can’t help but let out a few chuckles.

Matt Foley: Van Down By The River

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 1993

In this iconic sketch, Chris Farley gives David Spade and Christina Applegate the almost impossible challenge of not laughing. Heads up: they lose. Applegate tries to cover her laughter by placing her hair in front of her face. While Spade simply covers his entire face with his hand. There are several moments that Farley planned that he did not tell the other cast members about. Most notably, the table breaking! The sketch is executed perfectly and the reactions make it that much better.

1. Debbie Downer: Disney World

Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired 2004

At number one, we have Debbie Downer: Disney World. I’m going to start with this statement: Rachel Dratch is a great comedian. She plays Debbie Downer, and if you can’t tell by the name, she is always bringing down the mood at the most inconvenient time. Even at the Happiest Place on Earth, she can’t stop talking about feline aids and greenhouse gasses. There isn’t a castmember is this sketch that isn’t fully laughing through their lines because of Dratch’s amazing deadpan delivery.


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