Fred Armisen reveals his SNL Californians character was based on Dana Carvey's son

Fred Armisen didn't need to take San Vicente to the 10 to the 405 North to find the inspiration behind Saturday Night Live's iconic Californians sketch.

The Los Espookys star revealed that one of fellow SNL legend Dana Carvey's two sons provided the impetus for the cast's hilarious syrupy slow surfer accents while visiting the Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade podcast on Wednesday.

"I had seen Dana — I was with him and we did a stand up show in San Francisco — and Dana was telling me about his son," Armisen explained. "And he's just like, 'It's hard to be mad at him,' because, I think he got pulled over or something. He does this impression of his son and he goes, 'No, but, no, Dad, no, you don't,' you know? And, from that, as we were trying to do a California accent, as we're writing the sketch, that kind of came up."


Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Fred Armisen as Stewart in the 'Saturday Night Live' sketch 'The Californians'

The hilarious sketch — which has spawned two compilations-worth of laughs throughout the years — sees husband Stewart (Armisen) and his wife Karina (Kristen Wiig) struggle with love, loss, health scares, and, most importantly, Southern California's confusing roadways.

Since, technically, the tone is a riff on one of kids' accents, Armisen made sure to reach out to Carvey before the first segment aired to at least give him a heads up in advance, dude. "The way that he talks is based on Dana's impression of his son," Armisen shared. "So I sent him an email before it aired, I was like, 'Hey, just so you know, we're gonna do this sketch called The Californians and it comes from your impression of your son.'"

While The Californians voice might have been a case of accent-ception, Arminsen noted that the theme of the sketch came from the entire SNL cast's frequent trips to L.A. over the summer when the show was off-air.

"It was a bit also we would do at the table. You know that moment before you're actually reading the sketches?" he said. "When we came back, we would just start talking like, 'Where were you?' 'Oh, I was in L.A.' 'Did you go up Barham? Did you make a left on…' and then that sort of built up."

The idea to transform it into a high-stakes (and high mileage) daytime melodrama, however, came from one of the show's writers. "I worked with this writer, James Anderson, and I was like, 'What do we do with this Californians? What can we do with these directions?'" Armisen asked. "And he was simply like, 'why don't we just make it a soap opera?'"

"It's the magic of working with writers," he continued. "I never would've thought of that."

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