Chris Kattan Had No Idea How Iconic SNL’s ‘More Cowbell’ Sketch Would Become

It’s one of the most memorable sketches in Saturday Night Live history, but for Chris Kattan and his fellow cast members, nobody knew what “More Cowbell” would become in the moment.

Speaking to Maryland’s WTOP ahead of shows in Timonium this weekend, Kattan looked back on the standout sketch.

According to the former cast member, the sketch’s success caught everyone by surprise. “We were just in the moment doing what we should be doing,” Kattan told the outlet. “And that is performing in a sketch and just doing our roles as scripted. We were just doing the scene and had no sense of foreshadowing.”

The sketch—which aired in the Christopher Walken-hosted episode on April 8, 2000—stars Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Chris Parnell, and Horatio Sanz as members of Blue Öyster Cult during the recording of their eventual hit song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Walken plays (fictional) record producer Bruce Dickinson, who continually insists that Ferrell’s (equally fictional) cowbell player Gene Frenkle put more of the instrument on the track.

“I got a fever,” Walken exclaims in the sketch’s most famous line. “And the only prescription is more cowbell!”

Throughout the sketch, Ferrell and Walken cause the cast to break. While candid moments like that often fast-track a sketch toward a spot on anniversary show highlight reels, Kattan says there was no guessing how big “More Cowbell” would become.

“We’re not fortunetellers that this is gonna be a big hit,” Kattan told WTOP. “There’s no way to do that. We just found out way later that it became so popular.”

Kattan spent seven years in the SNL cast, from 1996 to 2003. His breakout characters included the primate Mr. Peepers, male dancer Mango, and one-half of the Butabi brothers alongside Ferrell—a recurring sketch that spawned the 1998 spinoff film A Night at the Roxbury.

Thanks to the “More Cowbell” sketch, Kattan’s time on SNL also seems to have had an impact on that episode’s guest host.

“I heard that Christopher Walken isn’t very fond of being told to say, ‘More cowbell,’” Kattan revealed.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *