We Have Christina Applegate to Thank For Chris Farley’s Matt Foley

It’s one of the most iconic Saturday Night Live sketches of all time — and without Christina Applegate, it might never have happened at all.

Applegate recalled the role she played in getting the sketch on the air while chatting with Dana Carvey and David Spade on today’s episode of “Fly on the Wall,” the duo’s SNL-centric podcast.

Applegate first hosted SNL on May 8, 1993 — an episode most famous for the first appearance of Chris Farley’s motivational speaker character Matt Foley, aka the “Van Down by the River” guy.

In the infamous sketch, Farley’s over-the-top physical comedy quickly causes Applegate and Spade to break into laughter. They struggle to contain it for the rest of the scene, as Farley hikes his pants up, squats low, and destroys a coffee table with an explosive jump.

Written by Bob Odenkirk and first performed by Farley back in their Second City days, the Foley sketch had a long journey to the airwaves at SNL. According to Applegate, Farley proposed the idea in the weekly pitch meeting, but Lorne later followed up with her specifically about the sketch.

As she recalled: “I do remember Lorne saying to me, ‘Hey, you know, Chris has been pitching this van-down-by-the-river thing for years. Would you mind if we do it?… He’s pitched it so many times.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course. Why are you asking me?’ So it was like a favor, let’s say…”

In the interview, Applegate also reminisced with Spade about what made her break during the sketch. “You came down the stairs at the beginning. And we had just done ‘Gap Girls’,” she said, referring to another memorable sketch that featured Spade and Farley. “And you still had purple eyeshadow on. So now I’m already done. And it was not like just a little, it was like the full eye…”

She continued, “I was already on the precipice of losing it, and then Chris comes out and does his thing. But he’s taken it to 11, whereas in rehearsal it was 9.5… He went so far into looney town, and Dave and I could not handle [it].”

Regardless of the part she played in the sketch’s existence, Applegate seems grateful to have just been present for a moment in SNL history. “For it to become one of the most iconic sketches in SNL history is kind of amazing. And I’m so happy to have been a part of it with you,” she told Spade.

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  1. Delbert says:

    Farley.. He was one in a million, great comedian!