'SNL' Host Will Ferrell Claims Christopher Walken Told Him the 'Cowbell' Sketch Ruined His Life

Will Ferrell revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that he may have inadvertently ruined actor Christopher Walken’s life. The 52-year-old Anchorman star is hosting Saturday Night Live this week and he stopped by Fallon’s show on Thursday night to talk about his holiday plans and reminisce over the pair’s days on SNL together. Fallon started by bringing up the now-legendary “More Cowbell” sketch from 2000.

After discussing the ridiculously small shirt Ferrell was wearing in the bit, he revealed that he ran into Walken years later backstage at a play. That’s when Walken told him the adverse effects that sketch had on 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 said while doing an impression of 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.'”

“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 joked.

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


The original sketch is a spoof of the VH1 series Behind the Music featuring the ‘70s rock band Blue öyster Cult, which is famous for the hit “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The song features the cowbell prominently, and in the sketch Ferrell portrays fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle. Walken plays music producer Bruce Dickinson who repeatedly comes out of the sound booth to insist that Frenkle give him "more cowbell" on the recording.

The bit spawned several unforgettable and often recited lines like “really explore the studio space” and “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.” The sketch is considering one of the greatest in show history and often appears on best-of lists. Rolling Stone listed it as the ninth best Saturday Night Live sketch of all time in a top-50 list published in 2015.