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Christopher Walken Told Will Ferrell that 'SNL' "Cowbell Sketch" Ruined His Life

By Natalie Hunter

"More cowbell!" has been making people laugh for almost two decades, and according to Rolling Stone's top 50 funniest 'SNL' sketches, it ranks as 9th. However, one person is not laughing. That person is Christopher Walken.

The sketch is a parody of Blue Oyster Cult's hit song “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The song has an extremely noticeable amount of cowbell in it. Christopher Walken played music producer Bruce Dickinson who would frantically instruct lead singer, Gene Frenkel, played by Will Ferrell, to use more cowbell.


Since the sketch aired in 2000, it has become one big inside joke in comedy culture. People often reference the lines “I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell," “really explore the studio space,” and of course, most famously, "more cowbell!"

While many people reference the sketch in good fun and out of respect for its comedic brilliance, Christopher Walken did not see it that way. Will Ferrell told Jimmy Fallon on 'The Tonight Show' that he is over the joke.


Ferrell explained that Walken blames Ferrell for it and said the joke ruined his life.

“But here’s the crazy thing. So, I go to see Christopher Walken years later, in a play. I say hello to him back stage, and he’s like, ‘You know, you’ve ruined my life. ‘People during the curtain call bring cow bells and ring them,'” Ferrell explained while impersonating Walken. “‘The other day I went for an Italian food lunch and the waiter asked if I wanted more cow bell with my pasta Bolognese.'”

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While it may seem like Walken had a playful tone while discussing the subject, Ferrell believes he wasn't messing around.

“And I think he was really mad at me,” Ferrell added. “He had a little smile, but…”

“He had such a great career, he’s a great actor,” Fallon responded.

“From Deer Hunter to Pulp Fiction, to ‘More Cowbell.’ That’s all he gets,” Ferrell added jokingly.

“So it made a lot of people happy … but ruined one person’s life,” Fallon said. “It’s decent odds.”


Will Ferrell explained on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' that the uncomfortable exchange went down backstage at a play a few years ago. Ferrell appeared on 'The Tonight Show' to discuss his Thanksgiving plans and reminisce with his old 'SNL' pal Jimmy Fallon.

They also joked about a comedically small shirt Ferrell wore during the sketch making sure that all of the fire wasn't being aimed at Christopher Walken.

Hopefully Walken won't be scarred by the rehashing of the sketch that affected his life so tragically.

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