Treat Yourself to Some Nuggets of Awesome: Recent SNL Break Moments

There are plenty of differing opinions out there on Saturday Night Live, but I’m a huge fan of the current cast. Sure, sometimes their sketches can be hit-or-miss, but that’s what the medium is all about: taking comedic risks in front of a live audience.

One recurring point of contention seems to be with “breaking” (i.e., losing your shit during a sketch). People seem to bipolarishly love or hate it when  a cast member can’t hold themselves together long enough to finish a sketch; back when Jimmy Fallon was on board, he was notorious for breaking, and I distinctly remember talking to friends who denounced him entirely because of it.

Personally, I’ve never really had a problem with breaking on SNL (though Lorne allegedly does). I think those are some of the most human moments–when something happens on stage that prevents even career sketch comics from doing their jobs. Is it unprofessional? I guess, but when part of your day-to-day involves habitual crossdresssing, extended testicle metaphors, and showering naked with Steve Buscemi, I’m not sure how serious we’re supposed to take you on stage. Not as serious as my aforementioned friends, is my best guess.

Anyway, some of my favorite breaking moments are the ones that completely disrupt the sketch, temporarily debilitating the guilty parties. There were at least two doozies last week while Jonah Hill was hosting, and a few more in the very recent past. Laughter is infectious, and breaking moments on SNL are my own personal deer ticks. Don’t have time during your lunch break for every sketch? Me, neither, which is why I’ve included my patented SNL ©Break-Moment Time Codes.  Read on to brighten up your day.

J-Pop (3.10.12)

The Instigator: Jonah Hill

©Break-Moment Time Code: 4:10

Speaking of hit or miss, let’s check out some lovable racism! This entire premise is ridiculous and awesome at the exact same time, and I’d literally been in need of some non-weird-skinny-Jonah Hill humor FOR WEEKS when this aired last Saturday. To be honest, I’m not sure how you keep a straight face throughout this sketch, so I guess it’s commendable that Jonah lasted as long as he did. But near the tail-end of his Cartman-esque ramblings, game over, man.

The Catalyst: Hmm, let’s take a quick look at that dialogue the writers slapped against Jonah’s face like so many androgynous Japanese phallusi…

TK: Now Martin-son, as promised, you will perform your powerful 1,000-sword dance-ahrreww!

JH: You speak wisdoms of the truth we agreed upon, but it’s more rike five swords and one cardboard tube, and my Kill Bill poster.

Yeah, try reciting something like that at your next company party and send us a video of how that goes.

[Ed. note: Seriously, please do.  Then I can count it as TJ’s birthday present next month and he might stop putting dead crows in my mailbox.]

Stefon (3.10.12)

The Instigator: Bill Hader

©Break-Moment Time Code: 2:45

This won’t be the last you see of Bill Hader on this list, but I’d argue Stefon is his most iconic character. About a year ago I saw an interview with Hader on Letterman or what have you, and from what I can gather it’s kind of a truth-or-dare scenario between him and the guy who writes the Stefon bits (i.e., “How ridiculous can the script get before Bill loses his shit next to Seth?”). I’m almost positive a non-breaking Stefon bit doesn’t exist, but feel free to go all Pulp Fiction on me in the comments if you must.

The Catalyst: If I had to pick just one, I’d say “Hoombas.” Just…just watch the clip.

Scared Straight (3.3.12)

The Instigator: Jason Sudeikis

©Break-Moment Time Code: 5:25

If you haven’t seen this sketch yet, do yourself a favor and skip to the very end. The “scared straight ” concept is okay, I guess, but it can sink or swim depending on the night’s host, and Lindsay Lohan took a (presumably pleasant-smelling) dump all over the clever dialogue SNL‘s writers set up for her. Cocaine’s a hell of a drug, but I’d assumed she had enough functioning brain cells left to extemporaneously deliver a few lines; Lindsay spends most of the sketch blatantly reading off cue cards, which didn’t exactly do wonders for her delivery. Thankfully, viewers who stuck through five minutes of Lohan were treated to a little nugget of awesome in the last 20 seconds.

The Catalyst : Jason Sudeikis does his normal shtick of hopping up on the desk after shooing Keenan Thompson and Co. out of the room (“You kids finally learn your lesson, huh? No?”), but on this go-around he misjudges his airtime and loudly knocks over a bunch of shit in the process. I suspect something else was afoot here (Bill Hader seems to be well into a good chuckle by the time the camera gets back to him), but Jason’s ass-thump was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Super Showcase (2.18.12)

The Instigators: Maya Rudolph/Kristin Wiig

©Break-Moment Time Code: 1:40

I saved this one for last on purpose, and it wasn’t just the chronological order thing. (Actually it was mostly that because I’m an anal-retentive copyeditor, but also: these two women are awesome.) If you’ve seen them in Bridesmaids, you know these two work well together. And I don’t have to do a whole lot of research to figure out these chicks must have a pretty congenial off-screen relationship as well. As soon as Maya opened her mouth I knew things were going to get awesome, but I couldn’t have guessed the extent. From 1:40 on, this sketch is a circus, and I mean that as the highest compliment.

I have exactly one critique, though: WTF Vanessa Bayer?? This woman doesn’t even come close to breaking the entire time, and in my humble, baseless opinion, I think she might be an alien.


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  1. I find it hilarious when they break. It lets me know that they find it funny too and that it isn’t just a script or job to them. Thinking back, I find that the funniest moments (to me) are when they break. Great stuff !

  2. When they break just adds to the comedy and lets me know that even those these are professional actors and comedians, they think that they themselves are hilarious, which they truly are.

    Except when Jimmy Fallon did it, he did it way to much and kinda killed the skit.

  3. i love the breaking moments, i think it makes the audience feel like they’re part of an inside joke.

    the reason why Hader breaks as Stefon so often is because the writers usually change the script right before he goes on so he’s reading most of it for the first time.

    also, any sketch with Fallon and Sanz was gold because they turned into a giggling mess.

  4. The writer that Bill Hader teams up with to do Stefon it the hilarious John Mulaney, who had an outstanding comedy special air a few weeks back. Just thought I’d point that out.

  5. In the Scared Straight clip, — when Sudeikis gets up from the desk and turns toward the door, he’s got a rather noticeable butt wedge going on that he so very casually picks. That’s what starts the break.

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