The Real Reason Zach Galifianakis Left SNL

Fans may know Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover, Due Date, Between Two Ferns, or countless other comedies, but before the actor was on screen he was trying his hand at comedic writing on Saturday Night Live. Speaking to Rob Lowe on the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast in March 2021, Galifianakis opened up about his time working for the famed show and how he “just bombed very badly” (via Entertainment Weekly).

“To be a fly on the wall in the writers’ room. I didn’t know what I was doing,” said the comedian, who lasted a whopping two weeks as a writer on SNL. “I was a standup, I had never written sketches to turn in. It was not easy, I don’t know if ‘supportive’ is necessarily the word I would use there. But you’re new there, and in show business, especially as a standup, you get a thick skin.”

Galifianakis clearly had really thick skin to still not have “any regrets” for the two weeks he spent failing at SNL, but what was the last straw for the comedian? Well, it had a lot to do with Britney Spears.

Britney Spears didn't find Zach Galifianakis funny

Just one year prior to joining Comedy Central, and thus starting his onscreen fame as a comedian, actor Zach Galifianakis was writing for Saturday Night Live, but the short-lived job ended in large part because of his failed attempts to pitch to then-rising star Britney Spears.

In 2000, after the release of Spears’ Oops!…I Did It Again album, the pop princess was the night’s musical guest and Galifianakis’ idea for the singer didn’t go off too well with the SNL staff. The actor revealed his terrible idea from the time, telling Rob Lowe that Spears’ “belly button was always exposed then and I thought she needed to protect it” (via Entertainment Weekly). The Hangover star pitched having Will Ferrell shrink down to belly button size to play the role of Spears’ piercing security guard. “It felt like a tumbleweed went right across the writers’ room table and a cricket riding it,” said the actor.

Things got just a tad bit worse when Galifianakis pitched another idea to the Glory singer herself, where Spears would be “interviewed by Entertainment Tonight. There’s no jokes. And during the middle of the interview [she’d] just start bleeding from the mouth.” According to the actor, America’s sweetheart wasn’t too thrilled. “She looks at me, and then she looks at the ground, and then I looked at the ground, and she looks back up at me, I look at her, and she goes, ‘Yeah, that’s funny.'” It wasn’t.

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