Heidi Garner on Being a Rabid Chiefs Fan and the ‘Middle Child’ on ‘SNL’

Blonde woman posing in front of red backdrop
Gardner’s range has made her an SNL fixture.Brianne Willis

Heidi Garner, SNL’s “middle child” and Kansas City kid is a rabid Chiefs fan who lets kids watch R-rated movies. While rolling out more hot-mess characters this season, she’s sharper than ever. Read our Q&A with Garner—but first, the basics.

  • Age: 38
  • Tattoo count: Four.
  • All-time SNLer: Eddie Murphy. Growing up, he was the G.O.A.T. on SNL.
  • Something to eat in KC besides BBQ: The best chicken wings ever are at The Peanut. They’re huge. I mean, they’re from prehistoric birds.
  • Tailgating policy: 100 percent yes. Arrowhead Stadium is a generous parking lot.

Every cast member has an SNL grind story. What’s yours?

The longest I’ve gone without sleeping is 25 hours. You’re just thrown into it and fully along for the ride, letting that take you wherever it’s going to go. My first year I was staying up all night, sustaining on gummy candy.

How did you nail your portrayal of a coked-up ’80s movie wife?

The cocaine wife was a dream. Sharon Stone is legendary in Casino and getting a taste of that world for two minutes was amazing. I was a stone-faced kid and didn’t let my emotions out much. Sometimes I think maybe it’s this freeing thing in adulthood that I can just go off playing emotional characters.

The spoof on The Last Dance, where you played a Chicago Bulls security guard, was next level. That take a lot of prep?

We filmed that the night before the show and it was one of the best times ever. When the clip played during the dress rehearsal I meditated so whether the audience liked it or not it wouldn’t affect my live sketches later. As I took my Airbuds out I heard a scream and then suddenly Ego [Nwodim], Bowen [Yang] and Chris Redd burst into my dressing room and yelled, “Your sketch was incredible!” It was such a great moment.

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Did they dig the Kansas City Chiefs dress you rocked after Super Bowl LIV?

I’m unapologetic in my Chiefs’ fandom—not that anyone has asked me to apologize. My husband was brought up a Broncos fan. I’m proud to say I have converted him to a Chiefs fan. Although Patrick Mahomes, the best quarterback in the league, may have converted him more.

When you worked at a movie theater, which flick did you watch the most?

My friends and I were really into Van Wilder with Ryan Reynolds. We let so many kids sneak into that R movie because we thought it was so funny. I remember turning a 10-year-old away and he was so bummed.

You also put in nine years at a hair salon. Worst hair you saw?

There was a man in his late 60s who was the only client still getting a perm—just on the top of his hair. He told my boss that’s how his hair was in the ’70s when he was killing it. Now I love that. My advice is, if you’re thinking about perm-on-top, do it. And this is a cliché but so many women in your chair open up, I started feeling like a therapist. It was always nice when there was a male client that didn’t want to talk. So, thank you, some guys, for just being quiet and letting me have my one moment of Zen.

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You’ve mentioned meditation and Zen. Stress much on SNL?

I get those anxiety vibes wondering if I’ll have anything for a sketch. But I’m an observer. A lot of my ideas come from an interesting person or even their outfit.

Ever ponder life beyond 30 Rockefeller Plaza?

I’m fully focused on SNL. I want to thrive and play as many characters as possible. I also wrote a script during last season. A dream is to sell and make that movie, and have it coincide with being on SNL.

You’ve been a cast member since 2017. Do you roll in with swagger now like the opening of Goodfellas?

We haven’t had a shake-up or mass cast exodus for a while, so I’d say I’m like one of the middle children right now. But I have been there for a while. Maybe I will start acting like an elder statesman. I’ll make trying the Goodfellas move a goal this year.

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