02/05/2015 11:44 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Women Of 'SNL' Share Show Secrets

To celebrate the 40th anniversay of "Saturday Night Live," Glamour magazine hosted a reunion with 17 of the most memorable female cast members to talk about everything from their first nervewracking auditions to playing their most recognizable characters.

Yes, those tryouts do sound terrifying:

Kristen Wiig: "Auditioning for SNL is the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. It was terrifying."

Cheri Oteri: "I got food poisoning the night before my audition. But even with no sleep, I could’ve danced with two broken legs. It’s that adrenaline."

On writing parts for women, by women:

Tina Fey: "It’s understood that everyone comes in and has to write for themselves. That’s the difference between getting handed the part of the stewardess and getting to play what you think is funny. You’re not going to stay up all night to give yourself one wife line."

Rachel Dratch: "When I came up in comedy, you had to gender-neutralize yourself for good roles. If you thought of yourself as a woman instead of as one of the players, you’d be relegated to the waitress role. But in my time on 'SNL,' that started changing."

Amy Poehler: "I liked the costumes depending on how easily I could take a nap in them. I always pitched a character called Sleeping Bag Lady, who just wore a sleeping bag, but it never caught on."

How Debbie Downer, Mary Katherine Gallagher, Mom Jeans and Target Lady were born:

Rachel Dratch: "I was on vacation in Costa Rica, and when I told someone that I was from New York, they asked, “Were you there for 9/11?” The conversation froze. When I got back, the name [Debbie Downer] popped into my head."

Molly Shannon: "Every Mary Katherine Gallagher sketch was about fear and success. I was so nervous on the show, but she made me feel brave. When you write what’s inside of you, people relate."

Tina Fey: "I was complaining about my unfortunate jeans with Amy, Maya, and Rachel. Somebody called them mom jeans, and it turned into the [ Mom Jeans ad]. Looking back, I’m at my goal weight in that commercial, even though I was wearing padding."

Kristen Wiig: "Gilly [the pesky schoolgirl] started with a silly face I made working late at the show one night. Target Lady was in fact inspired by a Target worker. Penelope came from listening to someone one-up people all the time. We all know a Penelope or two."

On female friendship:

Aidy Bryant: "Kate [McKinnon] and I are best buds, and we started calling ourselves [Dyke and Fats]. We’d be like, 'Sorry! Dyke and Fats are late.' We knew it was touchy, but it felt powerful to put it [in a 2014 skit], like, 'We don’t worry about this stuff, so neither should you.'"

Amy Poehler: "Every time I did a scene with the other ladies, it felt like a highlight. And if it was a stinker, it was almost more fun to think about how we would laugh about it later."

Kristen Wiig: "Leaving [the show] was a punch-in-the-gut sadness. It still lingers. I don’t think it will ever go away."


From left to right: Laraine Newman (original cast member, 1975–1980); Kristen Wiig (cast member, 2005-2012); Amy Poehler (cast member, 2001-2008); Ana Gasteyer (cast member, 1996-2002); Tina Fey (cast member and writer, 1997-2006); Sasheer Zamata (cast member 2014-present); Jane Curtin (original cast member, 1975-1980); Cecily Strong (cast member, 2012-present); Colin Jost (cast member and writer, 2005-present); Kate McKinnon (cast member, 2012-present); Rachel Dratch (cast member, 1999-2006); Michael Che (cast member and writer, 2013-present); Aidy Bryant (cast member, 2012-present); Casey Wilson (cast member, 2008-2009); Cheri Oteri (cast member, 1995-2000); Molly Shannon (cast member, 1995-2001); Maya Rudolph (cast member, 2000-2007); Vanessa Bayer (cast member, 2010-present); Leslie Jones (cast member and writer, 2014-present); Taran Killam (cast member, 2010-present)

For more with the women of "Saturday Night Live," pick up the March issue of Glamour, on newsstands nationwide Feb. 10.