Splitsider: SNL Recap: Maya Rudolph and the Magic of Breaking

For this week’s SNL recap for Splitsider, I discuss how an unusual amount of cracking up during sketches only helped the already magnificent performance of Maya Rudolph, as well as that by returning guests Amy Poehler and Justin Timberlake.


“For those who perform live comedy, there are few more dangerous games than breaking. Breaking is a term actors use to describe that moment when they laugh inappropriately while playing a scene, or “break character.” In acting classes, breaking is strictly forbidden, while in improv classes, it’s highly discouraged. One improv director made my whole team do pushups and run laps in the rain when someone broke. Our improv didn’t get any better, but we could have literally kicked your improv team’s ass.

Audiences have mixed reactions to breaking. In general, the more committed the performers are, the greater our tolerance for breaking. We enjoy Bill Hader cracking up while playing Stefon because we see his struggle to regain his composure. Also, chances are we cracked up long before Hader did. On the other hand, breaking can also be a signal to the audience that the performers are unconfident and “not worthy” of the stage. Jimmy Fallon attracted a lot of hate when he was an SNL cast member for being unable to keep a straight face, even before a sketch really got off the ground. And then there are those nauseating moments when performers break on purpose. Every production ofHairspray I’ve seen features a moment in the second act when one actor supposedly adlibs a line to another, who then “loses it.” The house always goes wild, but when you realize the moment is premeditated, it feels wrong. Almost as wrong as having seen Hairspray more than once.”

Read the full post on Splitsider.com.

About eavoss
Erik Voss is a writer, actor and improv comedian in Los Angeles. Please subscribe!

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