Heidi Gardner of 'SNL' says 'anxiety set in' after giggly 'Beavis and Butt-Head' sketch

For comedian Heidi Gardner, a recent “SNL” sketch that focused on two “Beavis and Butt-Head” look-alikes was “really special” — cracks and all.

The “Saturday Night Live” star said in an interview published earlier this week that losing her composure at the sight of host Ryan Gosling and her co-star Mikey Day as the animated MTV duo is something that will follow her for years. “I’ll never be able to shake looking over my shoulder and seeing what I saw,” she told Vulture in a Q&A published Monday.

In the viral sketch, Gardner plays a News Nation moderator who discusses the risks of artificial intelligence with an MIT professor, portrayed by long-time “SNL” fixture Kenan Thompson. Just when Thompson’s character is about to deliver a response, he notices a familiar curly, blond pompadour behind Gardner in the audience.

“There’s a gentleman in your audience who looks strikingly similar to Beavis, from the cartoon ‘Beavis and Butt-Head,’” Thompson says of Gosling’s Beavis doppelgänger. “It’s just a little distracting.”

Gardner turns around to request that Gosling’s character move to another seat off-camera — but before she makes that demand, she stifles a chuckle. After some back-and-forth, Gosling’s character — wearing an electric blue shirt — agrees to sit somewhere else.

When the conversation resumes, it’s Day’s puckered Butt-Head face that distracts from the session. “Now there’s a gentleman behind you that looks like Butt-Head … he’s Beavis’ friend,” Thompson’s character exclaims. In her attempt to quell her interview subject’s frustration, Gardener’s moderator turns around to look at Day — and she loses it laughing. She takes a minute to collect herself as the audience cheers her on.

Gardner explained in her interview that keeping a straight face during a sketch was “coached into me” long before she joined “Saturday Night Live” in 2017. She also said that she knew about the “Beavis and Butt-Head” sketch years prior to its debut on Saturday. Even in rehearsals, she said, “I wasn’t getting the sense that this would be a nuclear moment for me.”

Then in dress rehearsal, Gardner said, she had already seen a glimpse of Gosling and Day in their “Beavis and Butt-Head”-inspired looks, and that it was difficult to stay serious. When it came to the live show, Gardner said, Day added subtle elements to his performance. “I just couldn’t prepare for what I saw. I really tried,” she added.

In the final moments of the sketch, Day and Gosling are giddy themselves as their characters sit side-by-side, mimicking the cartoon pals. Cracking up during the sketch for as long as she did left Gardner in “a little bit in shock.”

“Then the anxiety set in and I was like, ‘Oh my God, was that OK?’” Gardner added.

Backstage, Gardner said, co-stars and writers came to comfort her, reassuring her that her performance was fine, despite the break. She admitted it’s difficult to give herself credit, “because I didn’t do the job,” and said she hopes the “Beavis and Butt-Head” sketch will be memorable for fans.

Gosling’s latest “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig over the weekend was a giggle-filled affair. From the get-go, the “Fall Man” and “Barbie” star struggled to keep a straight face, even during the cold open, which welcomed back “SNL” alum Kate McKinnon and her raunchy, alien-abduction-prone character, Ms. Rafferty. Gosling’s “nervous energy seemed to have infected other cast members who also couldn’t make it through pieces,” Omar L. Gallaga wrote for The Times.

Gosling’s breaks in character continued throughout the episode in sketches about a man who doesn’t want to get married, a doctor and surgeon infatuated with cookie crumbles and an “Erin Brockovich” parody, among others.

“SNL” returns on Saturday with “Training Season” pop diva Dua Lipa pulling double duty as host and musical guest.

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