How Kenan Thompson Kept a Straight Face During “SNL”'s Viral “Beavis and Butt-Head” Sketch: 'I Was Literally Quivering'

"I started to panic. Because I was like, I can’t talk without cry-talking," Thompson recalled of the skit, which also starred Heidi Gardner, Mikey Day and host Ryan Gosling

<p>NBC</p> Kenan Thompson in "Beavis and Butt-Head" sketch


Kenan Thompson in "Beavis and Butt-Head" sketch

Kenan Thompson is a true professional.

In a sketch performed during Saturday Night Live’s April 13 episode, a NewsNation anchor (played by Heidi Gardner) attempts to interview a professor (Thompson) about AI regulation. In the middle of questioning, Thompson is distracted by the sight of two men who resemble the titular characters of Beavis and Butt-Head, played by guest host Ryan Gosling and cast member Mikey Day.

When Gardner, 40, first turned to address Gosling, she struggled to stay in character. The La La Land star, 43, had trouble keeping in his own laughter throughout the skit, which has amassed over 10 million views on YouTube in five days.

Thompson, however, maintained his composure. His trick? Repeatedly breaking character during dress rehearsal, he told Variety.

Related: SNL's Heidi Gardner Left the Stage with 'Anxiety' After Breaking So Hard in Beavis and Butt-Head Sketch

“It’s hit or miss. Sometimes I can hold it, sometimes I can’t,” he explained to the publication.

According to Thompson, practicing the sketch had him “in tears” to the point where he was “frozen” and “couldn’t talk.”

The comedian continued, “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.”

Gardner spoke to Vulture earlier in the week about the viral skit and her reaction to seeing Day in his Butt-Head costume.

“I just couldn't prepare for what I saw," she told the outlet. "I really tried. I even saw Mikey out of the corner of my eye seconds before I went live. I saw the red shorts. I knew I couldn’t look over there again. Mikey even told me later that he was bending down and hiding himself so I wouldn’t see him.”

<p>Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images</p> Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, Ryan Gosling and Heidi Gardner on 'Saturday Night Live'

Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images

Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, Ryan Gosling and Heidi Gardner on 'Saturday Night Live'

Related: Eva Mendes Praises Ryan Gosling's SNL Sketch About Having Cuban Wife: 'Made This Cuban Mama So Happy' 

Like Thompson, Gardner had “lost it” during dress rehearsal as well, but despite previous run-throughs, she couldn’t manage to contain her laughter on air.

“I’m thinking about it right now and laughing. I recovered and tried to tell myself in between dress and the live show, 'You can’t laugh like that again.' I was trying to imagine seeing him in my head so I was prepared for it," she recalled.

Once she exited the stage, Gardner admitted she was "a little bit in shock."

"Then the anxiety set in and I was like, ‘Oh my God, was that okay?’ I had some friends in my dressing room, and they were like, ‘Of course, it was okay,'" she recalled to the outlet, though the reassurance — and praise from "so many other writers and cast members" after the show — didn't clear her conscience.

“It’s really hard for me to give myself any sort of credit because I didn’t do the job," she admitted. “I hope, for those guys and their portrayals of Beavis and Butt-Head, that it helped how shocked I was by how funny they were. And I hope it helps people think of the sketch. I’ll never be able to shake looking over my shoulder and seeing what I saw. That’s really special."

MTV/Viacom Beavis and Butt-Head
MTV/Viacom Beavis and Butt-Head

Gosling returned to the late-night show to host for the third time. His episode featured musical performances by Chris Stapleton as well as surprise appearances by SNL alum Kate McKinnon and Fall Guy costar Emily Blunt to continue their Barbenheimer rivalry.

Later in the episode, Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark joined Michael Che and Colin Jost for "Weekend Update."

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Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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