Even in early seasons, “SNL” cast members occasionally laughed mid-performance. During “Extremely Stupid,” a sketch from Season 2 in 1976, Candice Bergen plays Fern, a woman who helps her friend, Lisa (Gilda Radner), televise “a paid message from the right to extreme stupidity league.” Lisa isn’t the brightest, but the language used when others talk about her is the point. She wants to encourage the general public to be kinder in describing stupid people.
As Radner pours milk into her purse, Bergen asks, “You’re not too bright, are you, Fern?” She immediately clocks her mistake. She’s gotten their names mixed up, quickly adding, “Or whatever your name was.” That was all she wrote. Poor Miss Bergen leans her head into her palm and laughs, her body shaking uncontrollably.
As scripted, Radner looks directly into the camera and says, “We all can’t be brainy like Fern here.” Before the audience’s eyes, the tables turn on the characters’ personas, making the line all the funnier. Bergen is supposed to be the smart one! Radner’s fantastic delivery capitalizes on the moment with poised self-awareness — not once breaking.