It’s funny. You’d think actors breaking character on stage would annoy audiences; however, the opposite is true for Saturday Night Live cast members. There’s something about Jimmy Fallon losing his shit during a live sketch that makes us squeal with glee. And he’s not the only SNL veteran guilty of cracking up mid-scene.
Everyone from Kristen Wiig to Rachel Dratch and Will Ferrell has suffered from a bad case of the giggles while knee-deep in a sketch. While you’ll certainly encounter some of them during VH1 Classic’s ongoing “SNL Rewind: 2015-1975 Mega Marathon,” here are 15 of our favorite character breaks that range from subtle (“The Barry Gibb Talk Show”) to uncontrollable (“Debbie Downer”).
“Extremely Stupid” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Candice Bergen and Gilda Radner star in this quasi-PSA for “incredibly stupid people.” When Bergen accidentally calls Radner’s character the wrong name, she cracks up and the skit goes downhill from there. As Radner looks into the camera and talks about discrimination against “dumb” people, Bergen doesn’t even try to hide her amusement.
“Grandma” (Season 18, Episode 6)
Adam Sandler channels grandmother realness in this ’90s skit alongside Farley and Michael Keaton. When Farley messes up his wig midway through the sketch, Sandler can’t help but get in a chuckle. And we don’t blame him.
“Van Down By The River” (Season 18, Episode 19)
Chris Farley plays Matt Foley, a motivational speaker who thinks David Spade is “rolling doobies” and Christina Applegate is destined to live in a van down by the river. His over-the-top, sweaty, and aggressive character gets more and more ridiculous as the sketch continues. When it becomes too much for Spade and Applegate to handle, laughter ensues.
“Behind the Music (More Cowbell)” (Season 25, Episode 16)
Damn it, Fallon! You did it again. During this classic sketch poking fun at VH1’s Behind the Music, Fallon starts giggling at Ferrell’s farm-inspired musical “skills” and sets off a firestorm of snickers. You won’t be able to keep a straight face when you watch it.
“Jeannie Darcy” (Season 26, Episode 11)
In this particular sketch, Molly Shannon takes her Jeannie Darcy comedian persona to a retirement home managed by Dratch. However, the geriatric patients, grieving families, and stale atmosphere aren’t exactly a good fit for Jeannie’s, “Don’t get me started!” antics. Shannon breaks character toward the end of the sketch, but eventually manages to get her giggles under control.
“Jeffrey’s” (Season 26, Episode 12)
Fallon and Sean Hayes play snooty fashion store clerks who throw shade at customers they deem unworthy of the shop’s trendy threads. However, haughty scoffs turn to delightful giggles when Ferrell rides in on a scooter and starts gabbing about a Dolce & Gabbana runway show. It’s prime.
“Hot Tub Lovers” (Season 27, Episode 3)
Dratch and Ferrell play professors/love-ahs in this sketch alongside Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Things are going swimmingly (pun intended) in the sketch until about three minutes in when spiced meats get involved. Then, all hell laughs break loose.
“Leatherman” (Season 28, Episode 6)
Of course Fallon makes the list again. In this sketch (with guest Brittany Murphy), Fallon plays an all-leather clothing store owner who is obsessed with (and very serious) about his product. However, when his assistant isn’t being so polite to Murphy’s character, he scolds him. And by scold, we mean starts laughing mid-sentence. Check it out around the 1:50 mark.
“The Barry Gibb Talk Show” (Season 29, Episode 2)
This one is subtle, but hilarious. Justin Timberlake (during his first hosting gig) and Fallon play Robin and Barry Gibb, who host their own talk show about “real important issues.” But when Timberlake cracks a smile around the 2:22 mark, it’s clear both Fallon and he are struggling to get through this scene with a straight face. We blame the wigs.
“Debbie Downer” (Season 29, Episode 18)
When Debbie (Dratch) and her family (including guest host Lindsay Lohan) travel to Disney World, she can’t seem to keep her negativity in check—and it results in some of the most overt character breaks in SNL history. The biggest laughs come from Dratch, who can’t keep a straight face any time she has to drop some bad news. The most composed actor during the sketch is Fred Armisen, who doesn’t laugh once.
“Stefon” (Season 36, Episode 15)
Bill Hader’s signature character can’t hold it together during a particular Weekend Update (Seth Meyers was the host) episode about Valentine’s Day tourist attractions in New York City.
“Super Showcase” (Season 37, Episode 15)
In a parody sketch of The Price Is Right, Wiig and Maya Rudolph play models who highlight the different items in a final showcase showdown. As the objects get more and more ridiculous (the last goodie is a lifetime supply of frozen roasted chicken), the two actresses have difficulty hiding their chuckles. Especially Wiig.
“Scared Straight” (Season 37, Episode 16)
This sketch, which pokes fun at the A&E television show of a similar name, was going OK (minus Lohan’s heavy dependence on cue cards)…up until the end. When Jason Sudeikis (who plays a cop) knocks over a cup of pencils, the three “delinquents”—Hader, Andy Samberg and Bobby Moynihan—start laughing uncontrollably. Unfortunately, the scene ends before any of the actors can recover.
“The Californians” (Season 37, Episode 19)
Wiig, Hader, and Armisen mock Laguna Beach-flavored soap operas in this hilarious sketch. But when Armisen’s valley girl accent and mannerisms get a little too real, Hader tries very hard stifle a laugh. He fails.
“Maine Justice” (Season 38, Episode 9)
In this legal drama sketch, Jamie Foxx plays a bailiff who helps manage (Judge) Sudeikis’ courtroom. Around the six-minute mark, Sudeikis issues a ruling that is more than a little ridiculous. Foxx thinks so, too, because he begins laughing so hard that he has to cover his face from the camera.