If you work on Saturday Night Live, you know there’s one cardinal rule. And it’s not dropping an f-bomb (though that is frowned upon). It’s called “corpsing,” and it basically means to lose your sh*t during a scene. Lorne Michaels is notorious for his aversion to cast members breaking character during the live show, but honestly some of the worst sketches have been made much funnier thanks to contagious laughter.
Let’s take a look at some famous castmembers almost guaranteed to break character tonight…
To be fair, Hader’s flamboyant city correspondent Stefon was known for breaking into fits of giggles as much as he was known for his knowledge of the bizarre themes and characters at some of New York’s hottest nightclubs. Hader and writer John Mulaney worked on the script together, basing the character off of people both men had met in real life, but Mulaney often switched the cue cards before Hader’s set so the actor was as clueless about what his character would say as the audience members.
Hader also had a history of losing it during “Californians” with Fred Armisen, but really, who can blame him?
Will Ferrell was known for making his fellow cast members crack up during sketches, but that didn’t mean the funnyman couldn’t laugh at his own ridiculous self too. Ferrell didn’t break as often as some of the cast members on this list, but when he did, it was memorable. Case in point: his Hot Tub Lovers sketch with Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, and Drew Barrymore. Dratch and Ferrell played a couple of professors who had no problem sharing their love and sexual desires with Barrymore and Fallon, but when talk turned to spiced meats while the foursome was enjoying the relaxing jets of their hahh-tub, no one could keep it together.
Let’s be real, calling someone a Debbie Downer wasn’t a thing until Rachel Dratch’s character stole the spotlight on SNL. Dratch did some great work on the show, but she’ll always be known as pessimistic and miserable Debbie, who loved to inform people about feline aids and her own infertility issues. The only problem was, though she was constantly spewing some pretty depressing facts, Dratch — and whoever was unlucky enough to be in a scene with her — just wasn’t able to keep it together when the camera panned for a signature wah, wah, wahhhh.
Kristen Wiig brought to life some of the strangest and funniest characters we’ve ever seen on the air, but she still had a propensity to corpse. Usually it happened whenever Bill Hader was around, but Wiig’s friend Maya Rudolph was able to cause some trouble too. Their sketch “Super Showcas,” — where the pair parody those robotic Price is Right models — wouldn’t have been half as funny if Wiig didn’t almost run Rudolph down with a golf cart and then laugh her ass off about it afterwards.
Adam Sandler and Chris Farley were great friends outside of SNL, which may explain why Farley was so good at getting Sandler to lose it during their shared screen time. From the Lunch Lady to the Zagats Restaurant Guide to The Gap Girls, Sandler could never keep it together where Farley was concerned, and honestly, neither could we.
Horatio Sanz is a respectable comedian and he put in a lot of years at SNL, but for some reason, he could never keep it together when he shared a scene with Jimmy Fallon. The duo appeared in plenty of sketches together. “Debbie Downer,” “Jarrett’s Room,” “Jeffrey’s,” and “Aquarium Repairman” are just a handful skits that ended with Sanz busting his gut, usually because Fallon failed to keep it together first…
We couldn’t have a list of SNL cast members who constantly corpse without including the King of Breaking himself, Jimmy Fallon. While it’s perfectly fine for Fallon to crack up behind the desk of his late night talk show, losing it in the middle of an SNL sketch often caused a chain reaction among the cast. Not that we always minded. Watching poor Jimmy try to hold in the giggles while Will Ferrell banged on a cowbell wearing a crop top is an all-time SNL highlight.