Singing Bad: An Oral History of the Killer Karaoke Scene from “Breaking Bad”


Costabile: On each take I did the whole song and I was like, ‘You’re not going to use this whole song. Do you want me to sing? ‘ They’re like, “Yeah, yeah. That’s great, keep going.” I think there was some pleasure in torturing me about that particular song.

Gilligan: I saw friends of mine singing karaoke. I think I’d rather cut my little finger off than sing karaoke because I would suck so bad for it. I would be so embarrassed, and I can’t sing. I hate asking people to do things I wouldn’t do, but it’s something I wouldn’t do. It would be terribly humiliating.

Costabile: When they put on the fanny pack, I was like, well, now I know. Now I know everything. I think maybe it was Vince at the last minute who said, “Yeah, put the bandana around his neck.” It’s so brutal. But when you are able to be really that attentive to what is being given to you, it informs it on a much more interesting level than you can create, because it is present. It happens to you. You have the fanny pack. You have to clean this fanny pack.

You saw the fanny pack in the store, you bought the fanny pack, you wore the fanny pack. You have worn it several times in your life. You believe in the fanny pack. So at some level do you need more than that? Like, if you need more than that, I’m like, come on, man. You just gave it all to me.

Gilligan: Diane Mercer, our post-producer, was in charge of all post-production on breaking Bad and now on You better call Saul. One of the funniest things for me about the video, once you get past David’s outstanding performance is this crazy shit going on in the background. All those crazy pictures from the tv show Quark and there are some Recovery 1, an old Andy Griffith show from the 70s. And then the wild horses and all that. Diane and her team put together this background video.

Costabile: It was finally amazing to be invited back just to do it one last time, and to find this guy, because I loved this character so much. It was so sad to die, not only because I had to find a job, but because you’re just like, man, it was going so well.

Gilligan: It was a bit like the lark. It was born out of the fact that we love David and we love Gale and we wanted another legitimate, organic reason to have him on the show. Because, like I said, it would have been a lot cheaper and easier for all of us if we had just made Hank say: in.

David showed up ready to play. He was game, and — God bless him — he did it all.

Costabile: Haven’t seen the episode in a while, but at some point I was done and collapsed. The elevation in Albuquerque is really high so you’re out of breath. And in the end, I was like, “I can’t breathe, I can barely do this.” I wasn’t lying. Because they say, “Dance! Really dance! And I’m like, shit. I am a middle aged man. It’s exhausting. It’s an eternal song to dance so much. My God. I couldn’t do it if I had to do it again. Certainly not.

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