How Christina Applegate Got The Best SNL Sketch Ever On The Air

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

In a recent episode of Dana Carvey and David Spade’s podcast, Fly on the Wall, actress Christina Applegate delved into the backstory of one of SNL‘s most legendary sketches: “Van by the River.” According to the Dead to Me actress, it’s thanks to her approving the piece during an SNL pitch meeting that the iconic sketch got made. Alongside Applegate, Farley, Spade, and a stellar cast, the sketch not only left an indelible mark on SNL history but also became a defining moment for the careers of those involved.

Chris Farley As Matt Foley

Christina Applegate SNL

The sketch, featuring Farley as the boisterous motivational speaker Matt Foley, has been remembered as one of the most hilarious SNL sketches from the last 30 years, thanks to its uproarious humor and unforgettable performances, mainly from Farley.

However, as Christina Applegate revealed, the sketch’s journey to the SNL stage was anything but certain.

In May of 1993, Christina Applegate was selected to host SNL. As is procedure with all SNL hosts, the actress met with the show’s writers to listen to pitches for the show they’d be a part of. On the day of her meeting, Applegate found herself confronted with lackluster sketch pitches from the show’s writers. 

A Moment That Stood Out

Christina Applegate SNL

As Christina Applegate sat in the SNL meeting room at 30 Rockefeller Center, listening to uninspiring ideas, she couldn’t help but notice Farley thanks to his infectious energy. “It was a moment that stood out,” Applegate reminisced.

“Farley sat at my feet, looked up with this crazy look on his face, and just giggled. I thought, ‘Who is this odd human being?'”

Chris Farley Had Been Pitching Van Down By The River

Christina Applegate SNL

A little while later, Farley pitched “Van Down by the River,” which Christina Applegate soon learned he’d been trying to get on SNL for years.

Despite the sketch’s popularity at Second City Chicago, where Farley and writer Bob Odenkirk had honed their comedic chops, “Van Down by the River” struggled to gain traction at SNL.

However, with Farley’s unwavering determination and a little nudge from SNL creator Lorne Michaels, the sketch finally found its way onto the show.

Done As A Favor?

chris farley

“Lorne said, ‘Chris has been pitching his ‘Van Down by the River’ thing for years. Would you mind if we do it?'” Christina Applegate revealed, explaining how the segment finally made its way on SNL.

“It was like a favor. But for it to become one of the most iconic sketches in SNL history is kind of amazing.”

The Sketch

Christina Applegate SNL

In the sketch, Applegate and Spade portray teenagers whose lives are turned upside down by Foley’s motivational antics. Their parents hire Foley as a motivational speaker to convince their children not to smoke pot, but it turns out he’s a wired man who lives in a van down by the river.

Farley’s Foley is so animated and outrageous that Christina Applegate and David Spade have a tough time keeping a straight face during the SNL scene.

Christina Applegate’s Other Updates

christina applegate

Christina Applegate spoke about more than the SNL sketch in the podcast episode. She dives deep into her personal life and her journey with multiple sclerosis, including her podcast MeSsy which she hosts with Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who is also diagnosed with the disease.