Christina Applegate Van Down by the River SNL
Credit: NBC

The “Van by the River” sketch featuring Chris Farley as hyper motivational speaker Matt Foley is arguably the best Saturday Night Live sketch ever — but on Wednesday, Christina Applegate and David Spade, who appeared alongside Farley, recalled how it barely made it onto SNL.

The Married With Children, Anchorman and Dead to Me actress appeared on Spade and Dana Carvey’s Fly on the Wall podcast, which is focused on SNL, to recall her hosting gig on May 8, 1993. It was then that she appeared in the sketch, written by Bob Odenkirk when he and Farley were at Second City Chicago years earlier. It was the breakout moment for Farley and Spade, who would later star together in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep.

Applegate joked that when she first met with writers of the show so they could pitch ideas to her — as they do with every host — “I don’t think anyone was very interested in me being there because the ideas were all kind of s—.”

“But I remember Farley sat at my feet,” she said. “And he just looked up at me with this like crazy look on his face, and just giggled, and just kept giggling. I was like, ‘Who is this very odd human being?'”

Later, he pitched “Van Down by the River,” which, she learned, he had been trying for a long time to get on the air. She said the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, asked if she would do it as a favor to Farley.

“I do remember Lorne saying to me, ‘Hey, you know, Chris has been pitching his ‘Van Down by the River’ thing for years. Would you mind if we do it? He literally said that to me. He’s like, ‘I gotta throw him a bone on this one. He’s pitched it so many times.’ And I was like, Yeah, of course. Why are you asking me? I’m not the boss here.”

Christina Applegate Was Asked to Do the Chris Farley SNL ‘Van Down by the River’ Sketch as a Favor

Odenkirk, who would go on to create Mr. Show With Bob and David and star in Better Call Saul, had left Saturday Night Live two years earlier. But Farley still dreamed of getting the sketch on the air, since it had killed with audiences at live Second City shows.

Spade and Applegate appear in the sketch as a pair of teenagers, Brian and Stacy, whose parents — Julia Sweeney and Phil Hartman — hire a motivational speaker after they discover that one of the teens has left a bag of pot in the family room. Applegate delivers a fabulous deadpan as Stacy, until she and Spade begin struggling desperately to keep their composure as Farley turns in a wildly amped up performance. You can watch it here.

“So it was like a favor, let’s say, and 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,” Applegate told Spade.

The sketch regularly turns up on lists of the best SNL sketches of all time. Rolling Stone, for example, places it at No. 1.

The entire Fly on the Wall episode is worth a listen. Applegate also talks about how Anchorman — from SNL veterans Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — was originally considered a disappointment, before gaining a huge following.

She also talks about her new podcast with Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, MeSsy, in which the two actors — who have both been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — talk about coping with the disease and “about the curveballs that life can throw.”

Applegate also talks on Fly on the Wall about her continuing friendship with her Married With Children parents, Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal, her friendship with the late River Phoenix, and a life in show business that started when she joined SAG very young, in 1974.

You can listen to every episode of Dana Carvey and David Spade’s Fly on the Wall here.