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Marie Claire
Marie Claire
Rachel Burchfield

Heidi Gardner Opens Up About Viral Moment She Broke Character During ‘Saturday Night Live’ Beavis and Butt-Head Sketch

Heidi Gardner on "Saturday Night Live".

One of the hardest parts of starring as a cast member on Saturday Night Live? Not breaking character and refraining from laughing even through the most hilarious of sketches. Cast member Heidi Gardner (who has been on the show since 2017) is normally very, very good at staying in character—that is, until Beavis and Butt-Head came along.

The sketch, as seen here during Saturday night's live show, started innocently enough.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

On last Saturday’s show, Gardner memorably lost it for around 30 seconds in a sketch featuring host Ryan Gosling as Beavis and fellow cast member Mikey Day as Butt-Head. (For those that might not remember the 1990s, Beavis and Butt-Head was a popular cartoon created by Mike Judge that aired on MTV.) In the moment—which has gone viral—Gardner told Vulture that nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she turned around and saw longtime co-star Day in total Butt-Head cosplay. Gardner told the outlet that she had already “lost it” during dress rehearsal earlier that day: “This makes me feel almost even worse and unprofessional,” Gardner said. “When I looked and saw Mikey in the dress rehearsal, I lost it. I was shocked. I’m thinking about it right now and laughing. I recovered and tried to tell myself in between dress and the live show, ‘You can’t laugh like that again.’”

Before the live show later that night, “I was trying to imagine seeing him in my head so I was prepared for it, but I just couldn’t prepare for what I saw,” Gardner said. “I really tried. I even saw Mikey out of the corner of my eye seconds before I went live. I saw the red shorts. I knew I couldn’t look over there again. Mikey even told me later that he was bending down and hiding himself so I wouldn’t see him.”

Gardner and Thompson are discussing the most banal of topics before Beavis and Butt-Head's intrusion into the conversation. (Image credit: Getty Images)

In the sketch, Gardner plays NewsNation host Bobbi Moore, who is hosting a town hall on the AI revolution, Entertainment Weekly reports. She welcomes an expert professor, played by Kenan Thompson, who is immediately distracted by an audience member—Gosling, sitting behind Garner and bearing a striking resemblance to Beavis, blue shirt and blonde pompadour and all. Later, Day’s Butt-Head makes an appearance, with his gray shirt and exposed gums; when Gardner saw him, she couldn’t “fully face the camera as she continues laugh-gasping,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

In all fairness to Gardner, only some of the prosthetics were included in the dress rehearsal: “The dress rehearsal was when the prosthetics made their debut—the noses and the mouths,” Gardner said. “I didn’t know about Mikey’s exposed gums and teeth.”

One look at Day as Butt-Head was all it took for Gardner to lose it and hilariously break character. (Image credit: Getty Images)

She also added that during rehearsals they were “still working out the particular blocking” of the sketch, including sorting out how and where to look, so there wasn’t room for it to be as funny as it would become just yet. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is way more technical than I thought,’” Gardner said. “Ryan was already giggling at this point, but yeah, I didn’t get a total sense of what it was going to be,” adding she never got “the sense that this would be a nuclear moment for me.” (Gosling broke character in this sketch and throughout most of the show.)

During the live show, as she broke character, Gardner said Day subtly egged her on: “Mikey does seem to turn his head just a little bit and bug out his eyes,” she said. “It’s like he’s doing a subtle acknowledgement. That was new…Something in the way he moved on live television felt like when someone messes with you to make you laugh.”

Day as Butt-Head and Gosling as Beavis can be seen behind Thompson and Gardner in the forefront of the shot. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Though Gardner’s breaking got a great response from the audience (which Gardner called “so nice”), she admitted the moment gave her anxiety and that she “left the stage a little bit in shock” because she felt like she failed at her job. “It’s really hard for me to give myself any sort of credit because I didn’t do the job,” she said. “I hope, for those guys and their portrayals of Beavis and Butt-Head, that it helped how shocked I was by how funny they were,” adding “I hope it helps people think of the sketch. I’ll never be able to shake looking over my shoulder and seeing what I saw. That’s really special.”

As she left the stage and headed back to her dressing room, she wondered “Oh my God, was that okay?” She told Vulture “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.’” 

Gardner has been on 'SNL' since 2017 and rarely breaks character, but her break on Saturday's show will cement the sketch as an instant classic. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Yet we’re all our toughest critic, and Gardner is no exception. “I had coached myself for so many years not to break,” she said, describing herself as a “perpetual people-pleaser rule follower.” She added “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.”

Click here to see the skit for yourself—but only if you are in the mood to laugh really, really hard.

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