The cast of Saturday Night Live puts a ton of work into every sketch, but there’s still no real formula to calculate a hit from a flop. But as Will Ferrell taught audiences back in April of 2000, if you mix a cowbell with Blue Öyster Cult and Christopher Walken, then you’ll have a hit on your hands.
In the “More Cowbell” sketch, Will Ferrell created a story behind the Blue Öyster Cult classic, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” The bulk of the jokes focus on the cowbell performer Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell) and producer Bruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken). Of course, none of this actually ever happened in real life.
The sketch was somewhat of a risk as it was actually tucked away towards the end of the episode. But it was quickly a major victory for Will Ferrell. Now, there are even “More Cowbell” tee shirts, key rings, and more.
Will Ferrell Wrote Sketch For Christopher Walken
“Every time I heard ‘(Don’t Fear] The Reaper’ by Blue Öyster Cult, I would hear the faint cowbell in the background and wonder, ‘What is that guy’s life like?’” joked the comedian. Ferrell pitched the idea on more than one occasion but it was shut down over and over again. However, he knew the idea was good but it needed work.
“I held on to it for, I think, three months, until Christopher Walken was the host, and rewrote it for him. His odd rhythms fit so perfectly,” said Will Ferrell. “He gave it that special sauce.” It’s true that it’s hard to imagine this sketch without Christopher Walken there to push it through.
Around this same time, Blue Öyster Cult was in the middle of a comeback.