More Cowbell: The Lessons I’m Still Learning in 2016

More Cowbell” originally aired April 8, 2000 and is easily considered one of SNL’s greatest sketches of all time. Rolling Stone currently ranks it #9. It makes me laugh every time. And the last time I watched it, now 16 years later with my kids, I came away with a life lesson.

Have you ever felt afraid to put yourself out there? Or have you mustered the courage only to immediately regret the risk?  Honestly, I feel like that a lot.

I blog here because Matt and I wished something like this existed on the internet. A site that helped us share clean but honestly good comedy with our kids. When we couldn’t find it, I decided I could help. I love sharing comedy with my kids. I love watching Saturday Night Live with Matt every week and deciding which sketches are worth sharing.

But I hate the putting a piece of me out there. It’s a big risk for the INFP in me.

Then one day all 6 of us were crowded around the computer in our living room watching old sketches. You know the Will Ferrell classic: “More Cowbell”?  If you don’t, please watch it now. Then come right back, because there’s good stuff to be learned from it. *Note to parents viewing with kids: Will says “…play the hell out of this…” at one point.

While my family was laughing at the ridiculousness that is Will Ferrell, I was having an ah-ha moment.

Will Ferrell plays the fictional cowbell player, Gene Frenkle of Blue Oyster Cult to Christopher Walkin’s music producer, The Bruce Dickenson during the 1976 recording of the band’s biggest hit, “Don’t fear (the Reaper).” The recording starts really well, except for the loud and distracting cowbell. When the band stops, they’re surprised to hear Dickenson praise the cowbell and suggest that Frenkle “explore the studio space” with more cowbell!

Frenkle, or Ferrell, explored the space to the utmost degree. His energetic performance is unforgettable.  He thrusts his pelvis to the beat, he bumps into his cast-mates, he sweats and his belly shows a little too much.

Here’s my ah-ha realization:

What if Will Ferrell never took a risk? If he never spoke a little too loud? Or worried about his shirt rolling up and being seen by the world?  Or doubted his ability to make us laugh?

We would have missed the opportunity to laugh. We would have missed his gift. Not to overestimate comedy, but it is a gift. And we are a better world for having those who take risks like that.

My gift does not involve wearing a shirt too small or dressing up as Little Debbie (another one that my kids love). Yours probably doesn’t either. Am I right? But we do have something to offer the world in this new year.

Here’s my advice: Take a risk. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun with those around you. Make 2016 great. 

ps: Fun “More Cowbell” Facts from Wikipedia:

  • According to Jimmy Fallon, the sketch wasn’t that funny in rehearsal, then Will came out in a smaller size shirt for the live show.
  • Christopher Walkin still gets stopped for this sketch.  “I was eating in a restaurant in Singapore, and an Asian couple was at the next table, and the guy turned to me and he said, ‘Chris, you know what this salad needs?’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘More cowbell.’
  • Will Ferrell wrote the sketch with Donnell Campbell earlier in the season, yet it took some time to get picked for the show.
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