3. More Cowbell
Air Date: 4/8/00
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz
There's a reason Googlers will find that merely typing in the word “more” almost immediately calls up “cowbell” among a handful of more normal-seeming suggested search terms: It's straight up one of the funniest Saturday Night Live sketches of all time—some will undeniably argue the funniest. Despite the fact that Christopher Walken wasn't even an actual cast member, priceless cameos in sketches like these managed to nab him an entire “Best Of” DVD devoted to his SNL appearances. (There are full-time cast members that don't even get those!)
In this spoof of VH1's Behind the Music, we witness Blue Öyster Cult's fictionalized recording of their future hit “(Don't Fear) The Reaper.” While Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, and Horatio Sanz do a great job at mimicking the legendary bandmates, it's Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken who steal the show here, taking the sketch to ridiculous new heights between Ferrell's portrayal of fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkel and Walken's performance as The Bruce Dickinson, a legendary superproducer with whom the band is honored to collaborate.
As the guys begin to play, Dickinson's encouragement of Frenkel to “really explore the space” results in Ferrell dancing feverishly around the studio, crashing into the other band members as his tiny shirt rides up, his cowbell overwhelming the entire track (not to mention the pissed-looking lead singer). It's hard not to lose it after that, as the sketch's other players can attest—between Ferrell's over-the-top performance and Walken's deadpan acting (particularly while unleashing golden one-liners like, “I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!), you can tell the cast are fighting hard to keep straight faces.