‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ Is One of the Best ‘SNL’ Sketches…Ever


Something I’ve learned about myself recently is that, when I’m alone—which is at least half of the time—I rarely laugh out loud. As someone who loves comedy and will be the first to tell you if something is funny, I found this realization kind of sad. Perhaps it’s because laughter feels like such a social endeavor that I feel uncomfortable doing it in my own solitude; if I’m not laughing with someone, does my laughter even make a sound?

But even I was not immune to the irrepressible giddiness on display throughout the entirety of Ryan Gosling’s most recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig. Just as he broke in nearly every single sketch—a pleasure whose virtues we’ve already extolled—I found myself unleashing loud guffaws alongside him and the rest of the cast during what was maybe one of my favorite SNL bits ever: Gosling and SNL star Mikey Day playing regular dudes who just happen to look exactly like Beavis and Butt-Head.

It’s an incredible premise for a sketch, so brilliantly ridiculous that I’m shocked it hasn’t happened already. I’m hardly alone in thinking that this was among the funniest stuff SNL has done, at least in my lifetime. Even Heidi Gardner was losing her damn mind at the sight of Mikey Day’s incredible, award-worthy makeup as Butt-Head, which was the best moment of breaking character in an episode full of them.

Gardner played a host of a talk show on NewsNation, interviewing a professor (Kenan Thompson, the only cast member who didn’t break) about AI. Facing him directly in the audience was a man who suspiciously resembled Beavis (Ryan Gosling), the blonde pompadour-ed numbnut of MTV cartoon fame. It was a nauseatingly funny reveal, punctuated by Gardner and Gosling’s immediate laughter.

But it was the cut to Butt-Head that really did Gardner (and me) in, as she laughed for the longest I’ve seen in a while on SNL. It took her what felt like nearly a minute to respond to Day’s genuinely confused character, who wasn’t sure why he would be so distracting to look at. What is Beavis and Butt-Head anyway, he wondered? Day’s poker face is famously excellent, and it’s exactly why fans continue to call him one of the show’s linchpins, both as a writer and a performer; he and writing partner Streeter Siedell co-wrote this one. (It’s also a follow-up to a sketch from six years ago, in which Day played a guy who looked exactly like Bart Simpson—he has the “live-action cartoon character” thing on lock.)

Louie Zakarian, who did Day’s makeup for Butt-Head, deserves an Emmy for his heinously accurate recreation of Butt-Head’s gummy face. He “built a set of dentures to lift his lip, added a silicone nose and bald pate to bring it to life,” he wrote in an Instagram post showing off his work. And the incongruity of Day’s Butt-Head being a calm and patient audience member—unlike the sloshy-voiced character he looks like—made it even better.

Between the makeup, the constant scene-breaking laughter, and the lunacy of real people looking exactly like Beavis and Butt-Head in a world where the show Beavis and Butt-Head exists, this had all the makings of an all-timer of a sketch. As a fan of the cartoon, I was already going to be amused by a reference to it; but that the concept was predicated entirely on a joke as bone-headedly simple as “these guys look like those guys” is the piece de resistance of silly comedy. What I love the most about it, though, is that I can laugh at it by myself and not feel weird at all—because watching “Beavis and Butt-Head” means I’m laughing right alongside everybody starring in it.

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