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SNL Sketch Showdown: More Cowbell vs. Celebrity Jeopardy

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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Ferrell’s Finest

Before Will Ferrell was one of the biggest comedic movie stars in Hollywood, the “Anchorman” actor earned his name on “Saturday Night Live.” A producer scouted him when he was a troupe member at Groundlings in Los Angeles, and Ferrell ended up being brought on board “SNL” in 1995. For the next seven years, Ferrell became known for his impersonations of people like President George W. Bush and Robert Goulet, and the hilarious characters he created like nightclub aficionado Steve Butabi. But of all his contributions to “Saturday Night Live,” the two sketches that remain his most recognized are “Celebrity Jeopardy” and “More Cowbell.”

The Matchup

There have been a total of 14 “Celebrity Jeopardy” skits during “Saturday Night Live’s” run, the first being introduced on December 7, 1996. But it’s the sketch’s seventh appearance on October 23, 1999 that is its most famous. Featuring Ferrell as host Alex Trebek, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, Jimmy Fallon as French Stewart and host — and returning “SNL” player — Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds, the sketch brings together “Celebrity Jeopardy’s” three best guests from its short run. It’s Connery’s response to the Final Jeopardy! question, “SucK it, Trebek,” that is likely what makes the skit so beloved, but everything from Stewart’s certainty that onions are condiments made out of mustard seeds to Reynolds’ distraction when he finds a massive sombrero backstage make this a standout sketch.

The “More Cowbell” sketch is the most recognized one from Christopher Walken’s fourth time hosting “Saturday Night Live” on April 8, 2000. The skit features him as famed producer Bruce Dickinson as he helps Blue Oyster Cult create “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Interestingly, Dickinson is not the producer of the song in real life, nor was Ferrell’s cowbell-playing character Gene Frenkle an actual member of the band. The sketch turned “more cowbell” into a pop culture catchphrase and even spawned an aqua-colored Hot Topic t-shirt with the words, “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell” featured prominently on it. If that’s not a sign of success, we don’t know what is.

And The Winner Is…

This is a tough one. Both “More Cowbell” and “Celebrity Jeopardy” are classic Ferrell skits in their own right, but when it comes down to it, it’s “More Cowbell” that is best known specifically for Ferrell’s involvement. Ferrell is funny in “Celebrity Jeopardy” as Alex Trebek, but it’s Hammond who steals the show as Sean Connery. Likewise, it’s host Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickinson who utters the famous words, “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell” in “More Cowbell,” but the overall skit is Ferrell’s through and through. After seeing that sketch for the first time, we never looked at a cowbell the same way again.

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.