Margot Robbie, Louis C.K., and Kate McKinnon are among those who got the giggles

By Derek Lawrence and Maureen Lee Lenker
May 19, 2017 at 09:30 AM EDT
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“It’s the night of the show, your sketch is killing, the audience is having the time of their lives, when suddenly it hits you, a case of the giggles, and you know that you can’t hold it inside…and that’s when you break!”

The actors and hosts of Saturday Night Live are not always immune to their own hilarity. Sometimes a sketch is just too funny or something doesn’t go quite as planned, sending the performers into fits of laughter. It happens with enough regularity that Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler featured a montage of breaks over the years in a Lonely Island digital short called “That’s When You Break!” for SNL‘s 40th anniversary.

Some are better at keeping it together than others, but depending on the situation, no one is safe from breaking character if the situation tickles their funny bone. For those in the audience, it can often make a sketch even funnier than it was to begin with (and Samberg and Sandler acknowledge it could even be a purposeful tactic to save a sketch that’s not landing).

This latest season hasn’t been an exception. Some nights the cast made it through unscathed (hosts Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Aziz Ansari, Melissa McCarthy, and shockingly, Jimmy Fallon had break-free episodes), but other episodes saw them unable to contain themselves — we’re looking at you Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, the top culprits of the year.

Watch the videos below to see all the times someone broke on season 42 of SNL.

Episode 1, hosted by Margot Robbie

It feels like years ago, but in the season premiere, Larry David returned as his political doppelgänger Bernie Sanders. During Celebrity Family Feud, he couldn’t help cracking a laugh over always looking like he just finished chasing a bus.

David Ortiz a.k.a. Big Papi’s retirement at the end of the 2016 baseball season meant one last go-around for Kenan Thompson as the Red Sox legend. Yet, it wasn’t baseball talk that had him breaking; instead, it was describing all the stadium food he’s going to miss.

Kate McKinnon’s Debette Goldry has been one of the highlights of the season, often being so hilarious that on multiple occasions her costars in the recurring “Actress Round Table” sketches haven’t been able to keep it together. In the season premiere, Margot Robbie as Keira Knightley was the victim.

Episode 2, hosted by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Former “Weekend Update” co-anchors Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey returned to the desk as undecided female voters. And while Fey took the opportunity to lovingly roast Fallon over his infamous hair tussle of Donald Trump, it was struggling with his Philadelphia accent that caused him to lose it.

Episode 3, hosted by Emily Blunt

Leslie Jones was one of the most frequent breakers of the season, but in a sketch featuring Jones and Blunt as escorts, it was the host who couldn’t hold it together. Following Jones saying she can only role play as Stewie from Family Guy, Blunt cracked up after voicing the catchphrase of her original role play character, a clumsy maid named Patty Pendergast.

Episode 5, hosted by Benedict Cumberbatch

All right, admittedly, this is a bit of a cheat. In the final episode before the election, Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon stopped their impressions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, claiming they were tired of feeling “gross.” It led to a pre-taped segment of the duo spreading the love around Times Square. The break was planned, but a break is still a break!

Episode 6, hosted by Dave Chappelle

Whether it’s as Debette Goldrey or a freaky bar patron looking for love, Kate McKinnon is accustomed to making her costars break. Yet, during her “Weekend Update” segment as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, pouring a bag full of vitamin powder down her own throat was just too much to keep her from spitting it up and grinning in the process.

I dare you to watch Dave Chappelle and Kate McKinnon’s weirdo bar patrons disgustingly make out in front of you and still be able to keep a straight face. I get it, Kenan.

Dave Chappelle’s physical comedy was just too much for Kenan Thompson in this episode. When he wasn’t making Thompson laugh from his tongue kisses with Kate McKinnon, Chappelle was breast feeding from his mother, Leslie Jones. The milk getting all over Chappelle’s face and later, spraying on them, had Thompson and Pete Davidson doing the best they could to cover their faces.

Episode 7, hosted by Kristen Wiig

A sketch featuring SNL Hall of Famers Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig was bound to elicit laughs, and while there are many planned giggles, the duo can’t help but have a few impromptu ones, including when Wiig pinches McKinnon’s breasts.

Episode 8, hosted by Emma Stone

Can you break if you’re playing yourself? You can if you’re Leslie Jones on “Weekend Update” talking about the size of men’s genitalia. Surprisingly, it was her use of innocent hand gestures that pushed her over the edge.

Debette Goldry strikes again. Just about everybody had trouble containing themselves at some point in this edition of “Actress Round Table.” Credit to Jennifer Aniston for somehow being the only one not thrown off or chuckling at Goldry’s horrifying stories from her career.

Episode 13, hosted by Kristen Stewart

Leslie Jones slapped on his signature kangol hat to portray Samuel L. Jackson in this Super Bowl edition of Family Feud, but she couldn’t maintain the actor’s iconic gravitas while delivering an answer. She barely suppresses her laughter, while Kenan Thompson as host Steve Harvey gives her a wide grin of bemusement.

Episode 14, hosted by Alec Baldwin

Leslie Jones is the culprit again — she has a fit of the giggles throughout this “Weekend Update” segment. Jones and Mikey Day portray Greg and Shelly Duncan, a couple who ended up in the ER after experimenting with BDSM inspired by the release of Fifty Shades Darker. As Day maintains a straight face describing his injuries (and how he received them), Jones hides her face in Day’s shoulder and behind her hand, struggling to conceal her laughter.

In this sketch, Alec Baldwin’s gym teacher cheers on Mikey Day’s student determined to break a school record. The catch? Day’s character has a serious case of gas. Initially, it seems like Aidy Bryant’s reaction of placing her hand over her mouth to conceal laughter might be a character choice — but as the sketch goes on, the look in her eyes makes it increasingly clear that the line between her character and her own laughter has blurred.

Episode 15, hosted by Octavia Spencer

Kate McKinnon is often as cool as a cucumber, maintaining a straight face while she sends hosts and fellow cast members into peals of laughter with her outrageous characters. But playing Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump proved to be too much for McKinnon — she couldn’t get through a joke about Kellyanne Conway having no legs (“Why you ain’t got no legs Kellyanne?”) without cracking a smile and briefly hiding her face behind a photograph to recover.

Episode 16, hosted by Scarlett Johansson

Playing Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a cartoonish southerner got the best of Kate McKinnon again in this “Weekend Update” segment where she faces off against Alex Moffat as Senator Al Franken. When she announces, “I’m a danger to the country!” McKinnon can barely get out the end of the line without starting to laugh.

Bringing live animals into the mix is always a risky proposition, and it resulted in unintended hilarity in this sketch about a translator revealing a dog as a Trump supporter. The cast was mostly off camera while the dog rebelled against the helmet he was wearing and pulled it off his head, but Cecily Strong couldn’t suppress a smile in a cutaway shot in contrast to her hardline character.

Episode 17, hosted by Louis C.K.

In this “Tenement Museum” sketch, Louis C.K. and Kate McKinnon portray Polish immigrants in a living exhibition featured on a school field trip. Everything is going well and then we hear Louis C.K.’s attempt at a Polish accent — McKinnon can’t hold in her laughter at his bizarre nasal twang, which in turn, sends him into a fit of laughter. They grip each other’s hands and manage to recover, but as his accent grows increasingly off-base, the pair continue to struggle to stifle their amusement.

Episode 19, hosted by Chris Pine

Chris Pine gave his star-making role as Captain Kirk a William Shatner vibe in this “Star Trek Lost Episode” sketch. SNL crew member Akira Yoshimura plays Sulu, reprising a role he played on SNL back in its very first season (and highlighting SNL‘s lack of Asian cast members). When Yoshimura utters the line, “Yeah, we’ve never seen him before. It’s weird,” he, Pine, and the audience all can’t help laughing at the irony of that moment.

RELATED: Check out some of The Rock’s best moments!

The SNL season finale, hosted by Dwayne Johnson, airs Saturday live across the country at 11:30 ET, 10:30 CT, 9:30 p.m. MT, and 8:30 PT on NBC.

Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42

Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 46
  • TV-14
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
  • Lorne Michaels
  • NBC
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