SNL's Heidi Gardner Explains What She Was Thinking When She Couldn't Stop Laughing During Ryan Gosling's Beavis And Butt-Head Sketch

SNL's Heidi Gardner Explains What She Was Thinking When She Couldn't Stop Laughing During Ryan Gosling's Beavis And Butt-Head Sketch

SNL's latest Season 49 host Ryan Gosling left the audience and himself in stitches as they laughed over sketches like the sequel to his memorable short about Avatar’s font, his alien abduction sketch with Kate McKinnon, and more. But the most memorable sketch of that night that kept audiences and even the cast laughing was the one where Gosling dressed up as Beavis from Beavis and Butt-Head. Memorably, Heidi Gardner broke character with her laughter during the bit, and now she's explained what was going on in her head throughout that hilarious moment.

The Beavis and Butt-Head sketch truly has to be the highlight of Ryan Gosling’s episode of SNL. In it, Heidi Gardner played a NewsNation anchor hosting a town hall discussion about the use of AI with an MIT professor (played by Kenan Thompson). However, it was hard for audiences and even cast members in the sketch to take this discussion seriously when you had two distracting audience members (played by Gosling and Mikey Day) who looked exactly like the leads of one of MTV’s best cartoons. Obviously, laughter couldn’t be contained throughout the entire room.

Gardner couldn’t help but break and erupt into laughter when her character turned to tell the Butt-Head doppelgänger to change seats. She explained to Vulture her relief that breaking character on live TV didn’t ruin the sketch for anybody:

Time moves so fast or so slow when you’re off the rails with something on the show. I was thinking to myself, You need to recover from this. I had coached myself for so many years to not break. Being a perpetual people-pleaser rule follower, it was nice that I broke the rules — unintentionally, of course. I can’t help what I saw, but people were okay with it. Not only okay with it but encouraged it. That’s all the feedback I’ve gotten since.

If anything, you could argue that seeing Heidi Gardner break character made the Beavis and Butt-Head sketch funnier. After all, audiences were clapping with encouragement as they saw the hysterical SNL actress not be able to hold back her chuckles. Gardner wasn’t the only one in the sketch laughing though. If anything, the only actors who were able to stay in character were the extras and Kenan Thompson. But as Thompson is a long-running SNL cast member, he’s clearly trained himself for years when it comes to keeping his cool on live TV.

Even though Heidi Gardner saw Ryan Gosling and Mikey Day in their Beavis and Butt-Head costumes and wigs for dress rehearsals, the nose and mouth prosthetics on Day made their debut during the live episode as well as his exposed gums and teeth. Gardner also wasn’t prepared for the rib-tickling bugged-out eyes Day displayed as she turned toward him. Even though the SNL sketch turned out to be a success, the comedian was still scared that her breaking character would damage the sketch. She said:

I left the stage a little bit in shock. Then the anxiety set in and I was like, Oh my God, was that okay? I had some friends in my dressing room, and they were like, ‘Of course, it was okay.’ So many other writers and cast members came up and said, ‘Good job.’ I’m like, What? I actually didn’t do my job.

In a way, Heidi Gardner did do her job in keeping her audience laughing and entertained. She also is nowhere near the first SNL cast member to break out in laughter during a sketch. Plenty of bits on the NBC comedy haven’t gone to plan -- like the ever-famous Debbie Downer Disney World sketch featuring Lindsay Lohan where everyone broke character once Rachel Dratch did. Even Lohan walked off set afraid she’d get in trouble! Bill Hader also couldn’t keep it together during his “Stefon” segments without breaking. Overall, in a lot of cases, breaking actually makes the bit funnier.

Not to mention, Ryan Gosling himself was stifling a lot of laughter in practically all of his sketches as host last Saturday. But hey, if something is that funny, there’s only so much you can do on live TV when a director can’t yell “Cut!”

Heidi Gardner may have been worried that breaking character in the middle of SNL’s Beavis and Butt-Head sketch would ruin it, but it actually made the sketch all the more funny and memorable. 

To erupt in laughter yourself, you can watch Ryan Gosling host the latest episode of Saturday Night Live with a Peacock subscription. Also, make sure to tune in for new episodes of the NBC comedy series as part of the 2024 TV schedule every Saturday at 11:30p.m. ET on NBC.