Longtime Saturday Night Live fans may consider the classic "More Cowbell" sketch to be one of the show's best-ever segments, but according to Will Ferrell, it "ruined" Christopher Walken's life. On Thursday night, Ferrell appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where he touched on his SNL career and the legendary bit he had starred in with Walken. Fallon himself was also in the classic skit, and Fallon and Ferrell also reminisce about their characters' fashion choices. As for Walken, the sketch was apparently a little too funny, as it resulted in strangers asking him if he wanted more cowbell everywhere the legendary actor went. Here's what Ferrell had to say about how the sketch affected Walken's life.
"Here's the crazy thing. So, I go to see Christopher Walken years later in a play. I go to say hello to him backstage, and he's like, 'You know, you've ruined my life. People during the curtain call, bring cowbells and ring them. The other day, I went for Italian, food lunch, and the waiter asked if I wanted more cowbell with my pasta bolognese.' I think he was really mad at me, [but] he had a little smile."
Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon also seem to understand why the association may rub Walken the wrong way. As we all know, Walken is one of the most well-respected and legendary actors of all time, appearing in such acclaimed motion pictures as The Deer Hunter and Pulp Fiction with strong dramatic performances. He probably would have preferred to be recognized from some of these more serious roles than for the cowbell sketch, which probably seemed at the time like it would be a throwaway skit which could quickly be forgotten. For better or for worse, however, the segment became legendary in its own way. "It made a lot of people happy, but it ruined one person's life," Fallon jokes.
The set-up of the classic skit is that it's presented as a spoof of Behind the Music, featuring a recording session of the Blue Oyster Cult song "(Don't Fear) the Reaper." Along with Fallon, the band members were portrayed by Chris Parnell, Chris Kattan, and Horatio Sanz. Also appearing as a part of the band for the sake of the segment was fictional "cowbell player" Gene Frenkle, who obnoxiously overshadows the others in the group with his overzealous ringing of the cowbell. Walken plays music producer Bruce Dickinson who loves what Frenkle's doing and consistently asks for more and more cowbell noises, much to the band's chagrin.
Although the skit aired nearly two decades ago, it remains one of the most memorable of SNL history. The "more cowbell" phrase would be brandished and merchandised and quoted by people around the world as it become one of the most popular sayings in American pop culture. It is often included in many "Best Of" lists ranking the all-time greatest sketches of the show, reaching the No. 9 spot in Rolling Stone's listing. Over the years, Ferrell has acknowledged the skit on multiple occasions, which includes playing the cowbell on stage with Green Day on a 2009 episode of SNL.
Ferrell will be returning to Saturday Night Live to host the show for his fifth time this weekend, making the episode a must-see for fans of his era of the sketch comedy series. The episode will air on Saturday, Nov. 23 alongside musical guest King Princess. We'll see if he brings along the cowbell when he returns. This news comes to us from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on YouTube, and you can watch the full interview clip below.