How Josh Brolin Fully Committed to Fart Face, ‘SNL’s Biggest Bomb Ever

How Josh Brolin Fully Committed to Fart Face, ‘SNL’s Biggest Bomb Ever

This weekend, Dune: Part 2’s Josh Brolin is set to host Saturday Night Live — so look for more more sketches set on the desert planet of Arrakis, and less sketches set in a Hooters restaurant that somehow still exists. This will be the third time that Brolin has hosted, but regardless of what happens on Saturday, he has already left a significant mark on the history of SNL. How? Well, I have two words for you: “Fart Face.”

Brolin’s 2008 SNL debut ended up being a monumental episode, with ratings higher than the show had seen in over a decade. Of course, the boom in viewership had little to do with the star of W., and everything to do with the fact that Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin made a highly-publicized appearance alongside her election season doppelganger  Tina Fey.

In addition to Palin, director Oliver Stone popped by during Brolin’s monologue, and Andy Samberg was confronted by the real Mark “Say Hi to Your Mother for Me” Wahlberg, who joked that he would break Samberg’s “big beautiful nose,” which, in retrospect, is a weird avenue of comedy to explore for a guy who has committed multiple hate crimes. 

At one point, the backstage area was reportedly populated with “Mark Wahlberg, a donkey, Palin and her Secret Service agents,” which inspired a “visiting screenwriter” to remark, “This is like a Fellini movie.”

Then, in the midst of all this chaos, came “Fart Face.”

Submitted by Will Forte, “Fart Face” featured Bill Hader as a businessman who won’t stop calling his co-worker Carl (Forte) “Fart Face,” despite explicit requests for it to stop. Even when a silver-haired Brolin comes in for an important meeting, everybody still keeps calling him “Fart Face.” 

During the show’s dress rehearsal, the sketch was met with what Forte later described as “complete silence.” According to Hader, with nobody laughing, “Fart Face” played more like a Harold Pinter drama than a comedy. “I could hear myself walking around while I was doing the sketch,” he admitted.

Maybe people just weren’t ready for “Fart Face.” Maybe it was the “Dylan going electric” of late-night comedy sketches featuring characters who repeatedly scream the words “Fart Face” in each other’s faces. Lorne Michales seemed to think so, because despite the poor performance at dress, Michaels “loved” the sketch so much that he refused to cut it. Unfortunately, it didn’t do any better with the next audience. Forte observed that the broadcast version contained even “more silence” than before.

Not only did Michaels leave “Fart Face” in the show, he actually bumped it up in the rotation. It was originally scheduled for the final minutes of the episode, when SNL’s oddest sketches typically air, but Michaels randomly decided that “Fart Face” should instead come after Weekend Update, which meant that Forte, Hader and Brolin had to follow this:

A nine-month pregnant Amy Poehler closed Update with a Palin-themed rap that absolutely killed. Critics called it “the performance of a lifetime” and “truly inspired.” Lesser men might have buckled under the pressure, but as John Mulaney recalled, Brolin became more committed to “Fart Face” than ever. During the commercial break, Brolin glanced up at the excited fans in the bleachers and, with the palpable sense that “everyone in America” was about to watch them eat shit with a hopelessly doomed sketch, he turned to his “Fart Face” co-stars Hader and Forte and proclaimed: “Let’s shut these fuckers up.” 

And really, Brolin’s commitment is a big part of what makes “Fart Face” so funny. Just a year later, Brolin received his first and only Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Milk. But, for all we know, Oscar voters were really giving it to him for “Fart Face.”

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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