With Will Ferrell set to return to Saturday Night Live this week, the show has been digging up some of his best sketches and clips and dropping them off at YouTube. They uploaded a priceless Harry Caray bit, as well as a short video of current cast members talking about their favorite Ferrell sketches and characters and Ferrell’s SNL audition. They’re all fun to watch and work to help generate some excitement for Ferrell’s return Saturday night.
However, the real historical nugget that has been unearthed is the “Gus Chiggins, Old Prospector” sketch.
I had forgotten about this sketch, but when I saw something on Twitter about it Thursday night, it instantly came back to me and was as fresh in my mind as if I had just seen it a day earlier. If my memory serves correctly, and roughly 43% of the time it does, the sketch was an add-on to one of the Best of Will Ferrell DVDs released in the early 2000’s. And while it’s definitely not the funniest thing Ferrell ever did on the show and it might not even be in the top 10 or 20, it’s legendary in it’s own right.
It might be the quintessential Ferrell SNL sketch. All the hallmarks are there – the absurdity, the randomness of it, the fact that Ferrell seems to be in his own world, while the cast around him struggles to keep a straight face. With Ferrell’s best SNL moments, you always felt as if the cast was enjoying it as much as the audience was. And it’s not just Jimmy Fallon who breaks. When it was Ferrell, he got the best of them to at the very least crack a smile. In “Gus Chiggins, Old Prospector” practically everyone involved has a moment where they are laboring to keep it together, the best example might be Tracy Morgan breaking in the middle of a verbal attack on ol’ Gus.
Sitting in the front run is a baby-faced Seth Meyers. Meyers took to Twitter to comment on the sketch Thursday, saying the sketch was the perfect remedy to the atmosphere of uncertainty that was thick in the air, as it was part of the show that aired only a few weeks after the attacks on September 11th.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch the sketch for the eighth time in two days.