In the history of Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon probably isn’t the most guilty of excessively “breaking” during sketches—that would be a certain talkshow host who we’ll call Jimmy Breakin’… or Breaky Fallon. Still, in a recent interview with Vulture, McKinnon has revealed that she “felt ashamed” when she would break during sketches, saying there’s “something unprofessional” about laughing or briefly dropping your character.
The most famous examples of McKinnon breaking, as cited by the Vulture piece, are from the recurring sketch where she plays a woman who had recently been abducted by aliens (with Cecily Strong and Ryan Gosling playing other abductees in a few of them). The format of the sketch involved basically everyone in the room playing a straight man to McKinnon as she describes her increasingly bizarre and horrific experience, with her telling Vulture that it was as much a showcase for her as it was for original writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell.
She blames her regular breaking in the “Close Encounter” sketches to them, saying she would just be “so excited” to hear the strange and graphic “turns of phrase” that they had written, and then everyone would laugh the way she hoped they would. “Sometimes it was just too fun,” she says, and while she did know they’re “not supposed to break,” she thought it could also be a “hint” to audiences that she was having as much fun as it seemed like she was.
McKinnon doesn’t specifically blame him, but Ryan Gosling also had a tedency to break when he was in those sketches, which probably doesn’t help. Also, McKinnon does shout out Aidy Bryant, who recurred as one of the government agents interviewing the abductees, and it’s worth noting that she’s off-camera for most of the wackiest stuff in those sketches. She was presumably having some kind of reaction to McKinnon’s escalating story. Basically, what we’re saying is that—since McKinnon wasn’t constantly breaking or mugging for the camera like a certain someone—she certainly shouldn’t have been ashamed of it.
The entire Vulture piece isn’t about the “Close Encounter” sketches and does have some other interesting details, like McKinnon talking about when she told Lorne Michaels when she was leaving and a reference to the time she played piano as Hillary Clinton after the 2016 election (possibly the weirdest moment in her tenure, though she doesn’t see it that way).
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