‘SNL’ Star Kenan Thompson on How He Kept a Straight Face During ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ Sketch After Losing It in Rehearsal: ‘I Started to Panic’

One of the most impressive parts of the April 13 episode of “Saturday Night Live” was Kenan Thompson’s ability not to break during the hilarious “Beavis and Butt-Head.” During the episode, a NewsNation anchor (Heidi Gardner) attempts to interview a professor (Thompson) about AI, but the conversation is interrupted when Thompson’s professor notices that two audience members, played by host Ryan Gosling and Mikey Day, look exactly like Beavis and Butt-Head.

While Gardner and Gosling couldn’t help but laugh through the duration of the sketch — which has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube in the five days since its air — Thompson somehow kept a straight face.

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That was because he broke so hard during dress rehearsal, he tells Variety.

“It’s hit or miss. Sometimes I can hold it, sometimes I can’t. I got lucky on ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ that I cracked so hard at dress rehearsal,” Thompson says. “I haven’t had a break like that in a while where I was in tears and I couldn’t talk. It was that funny to me and what I was about to say next was funny to me. And I was frozen. I was literally quivering and then I started to panic. Because I was like, I can’t talk without cry-talking. I don’t want to waste the line! It could throw off everything. It was like, three seconds of just chaos.”

While Thompson, who is the longest-running “SNL” cast member with 21 seasons on the show, says he “smirks” often, he hasn’t “been quiver-lipped in a long time.”

“Not that I’m a control freak, but I definitely had a moment where I [realized I] don’t have control at all. I can’t just sit here and laugh! We’re supposed to be doing a job,” he says. “And I’m laughing and the camera is just stuck on me because it’s my line and I can’t get it out.”

Thompson also commended Gosling for being “a real one” and Day, who co-wrote the sketch.

“It’s the absolute best to find something so funny, written by someone you adore. I’ve known Mikey for almost 25 years, so you’re rooting for them,” he says. “Ryan is such a gem. People who are that successful don’t have to be. He doesn’t have to be as warm as he is. He’s a professional, so he’s playing it very real. We know it’s very funny, but that’s what makes it funny — the fact that he’s so in it and not messing with it. That’s kind of the art that we’re trying to show.”

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