There aren't many female cast members from Saturday Night Live that have been given the honor of their own Best of compilation. One reason is that unlike their male counterparts, no mayor female movie stars have emerged from the show (yet). Also, when you look at the females in the first 20 year run of the show, apart from Gilda Radner, who did get a compilation, none of them seemed to have created any mayor recurring characters. Prymaat and Connie Conehead doesn't count because that was an ensemble skit. Jan Hooks was a fantastic ensemble player and was one half of the Sweeney Sisters with Nora Dunn, but both of them are still waiting for a 'Best Of'. Julia Sweeney managed to get a movie out of Pat, but still no SNL compilation. Between 1995 and 2000 Cheri Oteri and Molly Shannon began to change the tide. These women were determined to create as many recurring characters as possible and have even been accused of causing 'recurring character' overdoses (most notably the Spartan Cheerleaders). Naturally, both of them have a 'Best of'. Now that these compilation shows seem to be coming out as soon as one of the current cast members leaves, I suppose we can suspect some more females to join the list pretty soon.
Like all great comedians, Cheri Oteri is not ashamed to make herself look unattractive nor stupid and likes to stretch the boundaries of sexual innuendo as far as possible. Case in point: she dresses down considerably for her Simm'a Down'a routine, as the prescription addicted Colette Reardon, Joy Lipton on Weekend Update and the pre-teen Althena. Then she dumbs up considerably for Morning Latte, the Spartans and Robyn Byrd and takes sexual tension to a new level as office worker 'Adele' and in the Zimmermans skits (or 'Sparks' as Cheri calls them). One of the extra features on the DVD version is Cheri's original audition, in which she comes over rather nervous and shy and performs three of the monologues she wrote during her time at the Groundlings. It turns out Rita DelVecchio, Joy Lipton and Althea were already completely formed before she got them on the air as all three appear on the compilation, some doing exactly the same routines. As usual the compilation includes a couple of celebrity impression montages in favor of showing entire skits based on these persons, though Barbara Walters gets an entire montage to herself (Cheri even turns Walters into a sexually aggressive nympho). One exception is the Judge Judy skit in which Cheri is 'surprised' when the actual Judy turns up (a gag they tended to use quite a bit during this SNL period).
The DVD features a couple extra sketches not shown on the TV version did: another Spartan Cheerleaders (with Christina Ricci) and a Groundlings skit called 'Always and Forever'. The latter was something Lorne Michaels saw Cheri do at the Groundlings, then asked her to do on her first show. On the audio tack, Cheri explains (with the obligatory Lorne Michaels impersonation) how he asked her to put that weeks host (Mariel Hemmingway) into it. Oteri obliged, but the skit no longer worked, so they did it the week after that, the way it was originally written. Still, Mariel Hemmingway does make an appearance on this disc, playing Elizabeth Berkley on 'Leg Up' with Molly Shannon as Anne Miller and Oteri as Debbie Reynolds (on their first show, remember). Cheri provides another interesting anecdote for this one: Mariel did a 'Showgirls' inspired pole dance during the skit, but didn't wear any underwear during dress rehearsal. Now we know all of these dress rehearsals are recorded and stored by NBC. Occasionally a skit that worked better during dress is edited into repeats, and most of these Best of DVD's feature at least one dress rehearsal skit (on this one, it's another Morning Latte with Kelsey Grammar and Shaquille O'Neal). This means that somewhere there's a bootleg tape of naughty dress rehearsal cuts being passed around by SNL employees, also including an alternate version of 'Sparks' with Sarah Michelle Gellar where Chris Kattan rips open Cheri's shirt while mounting her on the wall (this sounds even dirtier writing it down than watching it). So how about it NBC? Anyone for "The Best of SNL Unrated"?
8 out of 10 cheers for Cheri.
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