Bill Hader, Fred Armisen Share Origin Stories for 2 of ‘SNL’s’ Best Bits

Here’s how “The Californians,” “Garth and Kat” came about

Bill Hader and Fred Armisen are responsible for many of the most memorable characters and sketches in “SNL” history — and TheWrap now knows how two of our favorite skits came to TV.

During a recent interview, we asked the “Portlandia” male lead exactly how much he and fellow former-“Saturday Night Live” star Kristen Wiig would know before hitting the “Weekend Update” desk as unprepared singers Garth & Kat.

He summed it up with one word: “Nonsense.”

“So, it was nothing. Empty head, and I would start it and Kristin would just follow,” Armisen told TheWrap during a sit-down interview at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “It’s based on – we would goof around like that in the halls.”

“I remember, they would do that forever,” Hader chimed in.

The just-screwing-around-off-camera approach worked for the (actually written) “Californians,” too.

“That came from read-through,” Hader recalled. “It would be on a Wednesday after a break, and Lorne Michaels would take a while sometimes getting there, so you’d all be just waiting for him. And it would start with one of us going, ‘Oh, I just got back from L.A.’ ‘How did you get to your hotel?’ And they we would do those voices.”

“I went to Sunset and took a left on La Cienega …” he continued, gracing us with the voice of Wiig’s local home-wrecking handyman.

Hader, Armisen, and Kenan Thompson would use the accent-heavy Los Angeles navigation joke to the delight of one particular fellow cast member.

“Samberg found it really funny,” Hader said. “I remember, Andy, especially, would really laugh.”

Still, it was just a tiny inside joke — until it became a huge one in the open. One Wednesday, with Hader out sick, Armisen and writer James Anderson adapted the silliness into a soap opera. Hader heard the news on Thursday; the rest is sketch comedy history.

Hader and Armisen will return with Season 2 of IFC’s “Documentary Now!” on Wednesday, Sep. 14 at 10 p.m. We’ll have more from our interview with the two “SNL” alums in the future.

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