Saturday Night Live has always been solidly…well, in the middle. There are some great episodes, some awful ones, with generally the same percentage of each over each season (no matter what the curmudgeons who claim the Ferrell Era was the best). One of the most endearing traits of SNL, though, is its live-ness, and with that, the tendency for the unflappable celeb hosts to break character, or “corpse”, as it’s joyously called in the biz. Here are five of the best moments of celebrity corpsing from Saturday Night Live.
Debbie Downer at Disney World
One of the absolute best examples of corpsing, Debbie Downer (played by Rachel Dratch, who always seemed to be busting herself up) was an amazing character, hell-bent on making every conversation as grim as possible. Here, as a family attempts to enjoy a trip to the Magic Kingdom, host Lindsay Lohan can’t quite seem to keep it together while Debbie kills the mood. But really, if she wanted Lindsay to stop laughing, she could’ve just told her that in a few years, the high point of her year would be suing a game developer for making a cartoon out of her.
Ryan Gosling, as handsome and cereal-loving as he is, wasn’t the best SNL guest host, but dammit, he gave it the ol’ college try! Watch him try to keep any semblance of order as Kate McKinnon goes into weird, weird detail about an alien abduction. It’s not the greatest sketch, but hey, after beating the holy sh*t out of as many people as he did in Drive, it’s nice to see the guy smile.
Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker
One of the all-time classic celebrity breaks, Chris Farley hurls himself through a table to the giddy titters of David Spade and guest Christina Applegate. It’s a delight, but it’s a wormhole straight to the center of all things early-’90s, so beware, lest you come out the other side in overalls and butterfly clips.
Will Ferrell doggedly orders around Sean Hayes and legendary corpser Jimmy Fallon in a store where the customer is never right. Not only is Hayes’ corpsing a treat, so is this reminder of a time where the biggest punchline was how small phones are getting. Now, you can easily use your phone as a murder weapon, and then use it to write a book about how you DIDN’T use it to murder someone, but then detail exactly how you MIGHT if you DID.
Hot Tub Lovers
Speaking of Big Willy Style, here is another all-time great in which Drew Barrymore just can’t keep it together in the face of “the love-ahs” and their insistence on pronouncing “hot tub” as one word, with practically one syllable. Fun fact, Will Ferrell’s chest hair in this scene won an Emmy, narrowly beating out Ray Romano.
Do you think corpsing is adorable and endearing or annoying and infuriating? Let me know on Twitter!