Whatever your story is for the worst/shortest job you’ve ever had, Zach Galifianakis’ is probably better. In a recent interview with Off Camera With Sam Jones, the actor revealed how he was hired on a trial basis as an SNL writer in 2000 and how his short-term tenure ended with an allegedly unfunny sketch he wrote for host and musical guest Britney Spears. Oddly, Galifianakis initially thought he’d landed a spot in the cast, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. “I didn’t get it. I thought I got it, but I got to New York and I realized quickly that I was writing,” he said.
For the Spears episode that aired on May 13, 2000, he wrote a sketch in which Will Ferrell was to be the bodyguard to her bellybutton, which at the time was often exposed. At the table read with the cast, the entire room fell absolutely silent while reading it. Zero laughs. “I remember it was so silent. I remember hearing the A.C. as it shut down in the middle of the sketch.” He was sitting next to Tina Fey, who was the head writer at the time, and he distinctly remembers how she patted his shoulder after that. “It didn’t feel sarcastic. It could’ve been, but in my mind, it was her going, ‘It’s okay.’”
The entire SNL saga—if you can call a two-week employment that—bummed him out, but hey, we can confidently say he came out swinging. Galifianakis popped up in plenty of fare in the early ’00s, ran in the Reno 911 and Adult Swim circles, and eventually shot to fame with 2009’s The Hangover. Lately, he demonstrated some dramatic chops with his turn in FX’s Baskets, earning an Emmy nomination in 2017. And, if you really want to see the actor at his best, we suggest watching this year’s Between Two Ferns: The Movie, which finds him alienating the likes of Keanu Reeves, Chrissy Teigen, Matthew McConaughey, Gal Gadot, and Paul Rudd, among others.
Watch the excerpt from the interview below.
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