Saturday Night Live Alumni Play Casino NB on Friday

horatioA.jpgAs Metro residents look forward to the 13th annual HubCap Comedy Festival, which kicks off Wednesday Feb. 6, festival organizers are getting the laughs started a little early this year.

Saturday Night Live alumni Rob Schneider, Chris Kattan, Horatio Sanz and Cheri Oteri will be on stage at Casino New Brunswick on Friday night, offering an evening of sketches and stand-up comedy.

While any one of the four comedians taking the stage at the casino on Friday night would be a worthy headliner, combining the strengths and talents of Schneider, Kattan, Sanz and Oteri should make for an unforgettable evening of entertainment.

Each comedian has a list of characters or impersonations for whom they became well known during their tenure on Saturday Night Live.

For Schneider, it was his impersonations of Billy Crystal and Elvis Presley that left an impression. After leaving Saturday Night Live in 1994, Schneider became a box-office hit with films including Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Hot Chick.

In addition to starring in the 1998 movie A Night At The Roxbury alongside his former Saturday Night Live castmate Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan has appeared in a number of movies and television shows. Most recently, Kattan appears in a recurring role in the ABC comedy series The Middle.

Since departing Saturday Night Live at the turn of the century, Cheri Oteri has been keeping busy with television roles including Boston Legal and The New Normal.

Of all of the performers that will take part Friday evening, Horatio Sanz can lay claim to one of the longest tenures on Saturday Night Live. Sanz made his SNL debut in 1998 and exited the cast in 2006.

During his time on the show, Sanz became a fan favourite thanks to characters like Gobi and Rick, the step-father to hyperactive child Kaitlin, played by Amy Poehler. His impressions of Elton John and inclusion in numerous renditions of “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” along with Jimmy Fallon, Kattan and Tracy Morgan entertained audiences around the world.

Comparing the Horatio Sanz of Saturday Night Live to the Horatio Sanz of 2013, the most notable change fans are likely to notice is the fact that he has dropped more than 100 pounds. Asked what spurred his decision to lose the weight, he tells the Times & Transcript that a number of life changes inspired him to become a healthier person.

“When I stopped working on Saturday Night Live, I was getting out of a relationship and had a lot of stuff happening,” a friendly Horatio says. “I had reached a point in my life where I decided that I had to deal with a number of issues. I had been putting Saturday Night Live first for a number of years leading up to that point and decided that I should get healthy. I didn’t want to start developing serious health issues.”

Horatio looks back upon his time on Saturday Night Live as a dream come true. He credits both SNL and SCTV as playing crucial roles in helping push him in the direction of comedy. Sanz got his start at IO Improv in Chicago before moving onto the famed Second City troupe where he met future Saturday Night Live cast members Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. After touring and keeping busy for five years, Horatio says that he was plucked out of obscurity, landing a job with Saturday Night Live.

“With Saturday Night Live, each of the performers had to jockey for places in skits but really, at the end of the day, we were all in the same boat. There was a friendship and respect among the cast members that even if someone else’s comedy wasn’t your cup of tea, you still trusted that the person was doing something worthwhile.

“We all grew up loving the show and wanted to make the show the best it could be,” Horatio says. “At first, it would be kind of normal to feel some jealousy that some people were getting into sketches more than others, but then you learn to see why that is. It was a great learning process. It is hard to match the immediacy of doing live sketch comedy on television. The excitement of knowing that 10 million people might be watching you sing ‘I Wish It Was Christmas’ is hard to beat.”

Horatio says that aside from some work he has done with formerSNL-ers Chris Parnell and Chris Kattan, he doesn’t often have the chance to see, let alone work with, his former Saturday Night Live castmates. The show in Moncton will mark the first time that he will be undertaking such a performance since leaving Saturday Night Live.

“The show is going to be a real treat for me,” he says. “I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone is going to do. There will be some coordinated sketches between Chris Kattan and I but otherwise, it is going to be a bit of a free-for-all. I think it is going to be great.”

Article published in the January 22, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript