Everyone's still talking about the 'SNL' Beavis and Butt-Head sketch. Cast members and experts explain why it's an instant classic.

From left, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, as Butt-Head, and host Ryan Gosling, as Beavis, starred in the
From left, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, as Butt-Head, and host Ryan Gosling, as Beavis, starred in the sketch on "Saturday Night Live." (Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images)

Hit cartoon series Beavis and Butt-Head has had a few reinventions since its 1993 debut, but the show is still delivering on laughs, thanks to the April 13 Saturday Night Live skit that spoofed the main characters.

In the skit, SNL cast member Heidi Gardner portrays a NewsNation anchor conducting a town hall discussion on artificial intelligence. She’s interviewing a professor who studies AI, played by castmate Kenan Thompson. Things get awkward when he can’t stay focused because of two audience members who have an unmistakable resemblance to Beavis and Butt-Head.

What makes the skit funny is that Ryan Gosling, as Beavis, and Mikey Day, as Butt-Head, play audience members who are unaware of their distracting looks.

The skit was so funny, in fact, that multiple actors broke character, with Gosling and Gardner finding it particularly difficult to hold back from laughing. The YouTube video now has more than 11 million views and is still trending with search engines.

“It was a sketch that had been put up at table reads and rehearsals for about five years prior to this,” Gardner told Vulture. “Previously, I was in the sketch but as an audience member. I can’t remember the other castings of it. It never made it to a dress rehearsal.”

She said that Day and skit co-writer Streeter Seidell were committed to this particular bit and continued to pitch it.

Michael Chavez Booth, a marketing expert and longtime Beavis and Butt-Head fan, told Yahoo Entertainment that he has watched everything from the “OG,” or original, seasons of the show to the movies, as well as played the video game on Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Living in "an SNL household," Booth also said that it was the best of both worlds.

“This skit is random and bold, builds around a nostalgic-yet-resurging piece of pop culture, features key cast members and a notable and fan-favorite guest host, and is set on a sophisticated stage, as far as SNL builds go,” Booth, a founding partner of marketing firm POV Agency, told Yahoo Entertainment.

Gardner, an alum of premier improv school the Groundlings, told Vulture that an instructor once had a “talking-to” with her and a classmate about breaking character. Ever since then, she said she’s made it a mission to keep a straight face, no matter how funny the material.

But this skit was just too much.

“This makes me feel almost even worse and unprofessional,” she said. “When I looked and saw Mikey in the dress rehearsal, I lost it. I was shocked.”

Heidi Gardner found it hard to keep a straight face during the sketch. (Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images)
Heidi Gardner found it hard to keep a straight face during the sketch. (Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images)

She later told the outlet she left the stage “a little bit in shock” from laughing.

“Then the anxiety set in and I was like, ‘Oh my God, was that OK?’ I had some friends in my dressing room, and they were like, ‘Of course, it was OK.’ So many other writers and cast members came up and said, ‘Good job.’ I’m like, ‘What? I actually didn’t do my job.’”

As much as Gardner thought it was unprofessional, the SNL audience seemed to enjoy the characters loving their own work so much that they couldn’t hold it in.

“It was so nice,” she said, referring to the audience’s clapping when the cast broke character.

“I can’t help what I saw, but people were OK with it,” Gardner added. “Not only OK with it but encouraged it.”

Thompson, the longest-running cast member on SNL with 21 seasons under his belt, used dress rehearsal to get the laughs out of his system.

“It’s hit or miss. Sometimes I can hold it, sometimes I can’t. I got lucky on ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ that I cracked so hard at dress rehearsal,” Thompson told Variety.

Kenan Thompson sits opposite
Kenan Thompson kept from laughing while performing with castmate Heidi Gardner in the sketch. (Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images)

“I haven’t had a break like that in a while where I was in tears and I couldn’t talk. It was that funny to me and what I was about to say next was funny to me. And I was frozen. I was literally quivering and then I started to panic. Because I was like, I can’t talk without cry-talking. I don’t want to waste the line! It could throw off everything. It was like, three seconds of just chaos,” he added.

So is the sketch now at legendary status?

“I think it is,” Blair Huddy, the founder and CEO of Hudson Davis Communications, told Yahoo Entertainment.

“From a marketing and PR perspective, it's memorable, and that makes it a classic. From the cast members and the host breaking to the content and the callbacks to an era we're so desperate to relive/remember, there's a lot to love about the skit,” he said. “From a social media technical perspective, it's one that is really easily shareable and got a lot of virality from the sheer number of shares, which also gives it that ‘classic’ capacity.”

“I think it has staying power,” Booth added. “I'd put it up there with the 'Super Showcase Spokesmodels' skit from Season 37 or “Lisa From Temecula” from last season.”

Though Beavis and Butt-Head ended its eighth season in 2011, Paramount+ revitalized it with the June 2022 movie Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe. Then a new TV series followed in August 2022, with the second season premiering April 2023 on the streaming platform.