How SNL's The Californians Sketch Came Together

snl the californians bill hader kristen wiig

Saturday Night Live has produced plenty of running gags over the years that bring the laughs week in and week out. One of the most bizarrely entertaining was the Californians soap opera parody. The Californians sketches regularly featured Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Kristen Wiig decked out in blond wigs dropping melodramatic L.A. references in Valleyspeak accents. Bill Hader stopped by Late Night with Seth Meyers to reveal just what went on behind the scenes to create the premise. Hader had this to say as he spilled the details of the Californians origin starting up while he and Armisen would wait for table reads to begin:

We'd just be sitting there waiting for like ten minutes for Lorne, and so we would start this bit where I would go 'Hey man, did you go to L.A.?' 'Yeah, yeah.' 'How'd you get back to your hotel?' And then we'd go, 'Well, dude, I would go down Sunset, then I would take a left on La Cienega, and I'd take that all the way down to Pico, take a right, take Pico, hop on the 10, hop on the 10 west, take that all the way down to the beach, then head up the PCH.' We would just do these things for hours. We did that for years. Kenan Thompson was in on it, Andy would get it on it, and we would all just do these California voices. Then one day before a table read, Fred came up to me. He was like, 'Hey, James Anderson and I took that bit we did, and we made it a soap opera.'

As it turns out, fans everywhere have Lorne Michaels' tardiness to thank for what became The Californians. If the SNL head honcho hadn't been habitually late for episode table reads, we might never have gotten the weirdly hilarious soap opera sketches. Fred Armisen's leap from Valleyspeak traffic chatter to a fake soap is one that not many comedians might have made, but it definitely worked.

The ongoing love triangle of Fred Armisen's Stuart, Kristen Wiig's unfaithful Karina, and Bill Hader's forbidden love interest Devon was off-the-walls enough that even those of us who didn't get the barrage of L.A. references could still find reason to laugh. Honestly, I snickered a little bit whenever Vanessa Bayer wandered into the room as the only frequent flyer brunette on the fake show. Check out a clip of one of the best Californians "episodes" for a refresher:

Oh, the joys of forbidden love in Valleyspeak. What would SNL have been without it during Bill Hader's time on the show with Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig? The sketches aren't necessarily for anybody, but the crew who put the premise together definitely deserve credit for creativity. At the very least, the bits were fun to watch for the bloopers as somebody inevitably cracked up on screen.

To hear the rest of what Bill Hader had to say about his time on SNL and the origin of The Californians, check out the full video of the story on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

The Californians may be a thing of the past now that the key players have moved on, but there are still plenty of gags worth catching on SNL. The show returns to NBC for Season 42 on Saturday, October 1 at 11:30 p.m. ET. Check out our fall TV schedule to see when your other favorite shows premiere in the near future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.