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Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen's "Garth and Kat" Sketch Will Start Your Summer Right

Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig's improvised "Weekend Update" songs required actual musical genius, and Wiig once called them "so freeing and fun."

By Samantha Vincenty

These days, Fred Armisen counts being the Music Director and sometime drummer for Late Night with Seth Meyers8G Band among his gigs. But from 2002-2013, Armisen was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, where he counted Seth Meyers and SNL Five-Timer Kristen Wiig among his fellow cast members. Among one of Armisen and Wiig's most memorable collaborations: their Garth and Kat "Weekend Update" duo. 

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

The apologetic songwriting pair were regulars at Meyers' "Weekend Update" desk, always promising a slate of original compositions while only managing to deliver some joyously ad-libbed numbers instead. Wiig and Armisen's characters did it in style, too, wearing seasonally-thematic matching vests that suggested someone really knew their way around a Michael's craft store.

Because their "Garth and Kat" installment from the Season 35 finale fell right before Memorial Day, the two promised Meyers some fun summer songs. 

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Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Seth Meyers during the Garth and Kat skit during Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update

Scrambling to the desk, unprepared as ever, Wiig and Armisen's characters explained that they "just woke up."

"We sleep 20 hours a night," Kat told Meyers.

While they swear that their ditties are "all pre-written" and rehearsed, their first track — titled  "Let Us Play Some Volleyball on Your Beach" — doesn't sound like it. But what they lack in proper lyrics they more than make up for with facial expressions, grunts, and rhythmic handclaps. 

What about their subsequent bops, "The Lobster and Crab Lose All Over the Place" and "When the Sun is Shining?" Watch the sketch, below, to see them get the Kat and Garth treatment.

Were Garth and Kat improvised?

Yes. Unlike nearly every other Saturday Night Live sketch since the show's inception, Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen's "Garth and Kat" segments were largely improvised. 

Creating made-up songs that balance chaos and coherence in a way that's funny to watch (and, as Wiig's reactions often made clear, funny to them) requires actual musical skill. That's where longtime musician Armisen's ear came in handy. 

As Wiig revealed in a 2011 Movieline interview (quotes via Vulture), "[Armisen] definitely starts and I just try to follow."

"We don’t rehearse," Wiig said. "The first time we do it that week is literally at the dress rehearsal."

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When Movieline asked whether Armisen switched up the lyrics between dress and the Saturday broadcast, she said, "Yeah, nothing is the same. That’s why we don’t ever think of anything beforehand."

While they'd sketch out some loose thematic concepts ahead of time, "even when we do it, that all goes out the window," she continued. "It’s the most fun I have because so much of the show is writing, working, deadlines, trying to figure things out, punching up your sketch, knowing you’re going to perform live. And that two and a half minutes of airtime is so freeing and fun."

Fred Armisen as Garth, Kristin Wiig as Kat during the Marty and Beyonce skit during the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Specia

Watch more Garth and Kat "Weekend Update" segments

Catch up on every past season of Saturday Night Live on Peacock. 

"Garth and Kat sing Mother's Day songs" 

Weekend Update: Garth and Kat Sing Mother's Day Songs

"Garth and Kat sing Halloween songs"

Weekend Update: Garth and Kat Sing Halloween Songs

"Garth and Kat sing spring songs"

Weekend Update: Garth and Kat Sing Spring Songs

"Garth and Kat sing Valentine's Day songs"

Weekend Update: Garth and Kat Sing Valentine's Day Songs