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The Spartan Cheerleaders, often referred to as simply "The Spartans", were recurring characters on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live during the 1990s. They consisted of students Arianna (Cheri Oteri) and Craig Buchanan (Will Ferrell), a pair of awkward, self-conscious pariahs who led unusual cheerleading routines at school functions to which they had not been invited.
In the first "Spartans" sketch, it's made clear that Craig and Arianna tried out unsuccessfully for the East Lake High Spartan Spirit cheerleading squad, but after being cut, made off with the uniforms and began cheering on their own. They begin at a football game, but after being told to leave by a real Spartan (Quentin Tarantino), they move to more unusual school functions where cheerleaders are usually not present, such as chess tournaments and swim meets. Eventually they were shown entirely out of school context, at places like Halloween parties and Hickory Farms.
In between cheers, Arianna spars with her off-camera nemesis Alexis. Alexis does not make an appearance until the "Candy Striper Spartans" episode (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt), in which the Spartan Cheerleaders find her in labor in the hospital at which they volunteer.
An example of the Spartans' most common cheer format is: (Craig:) "Who's that Spartan in my teepee?" (Arianna): "It's me, it's me" (Craig:) "Who's that Spartan in my teepee?" (Arianna): "It's me, it's me." (Together): "Uh-huh, uh-huh. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh!" "Native Americans!" Most skits ended with what they called "The Perfect Cheer", which would be an elaborate routine to a popular song they would play from a boombox music player.
The fictional East Lake High School Spartans were loosely based on the Bainbridge Island High School Spartans where Chris Kattan attended school. Kattan created the Spartans for SNL.
Cheri Oteri herself would parody the popularity of the skit during a Halloween episode as her character Rita DelVecchio. When a group of kids show up at her door Trick or Treating as the cheerleaders, she says "If I see that skit one more time I'm gonna put my damn foot through the TV."
List of SNL episodes featuring the Spartans
|Sketch Name||Episode Date||Episode Host|
|"Spartans Football Game"||November 11, 1995||Quentin Tarantino|
|"Spartans Basketball Game"||December 16, 1995||Madeline Kahn|
|"Spartans Chess Tournament"||January 20, 1996||Alec Baldwin|
|"Spartans Swim Meet"||February 24, 1996||Elle Macpherson|
|"Spartans Math Competition"||April 20, 1996||Teri Hatcher|
|"Spartans Wrestling Tournament"||May 18, 1996||Jim Carrey|
|"Spartans Ping-Pong Tournament"||September 28, 1996||Tom Hanks|
|"Spartans Bowling Tournament"||November 16, 1996||Robert Downey, Jr.|
|"Hickory Farms Spartans"||December 14, 1996||Rosie O'Donnell|
|"Sidney & The Spartans"||February 8, 1997||Neve Campbell|
|"Baywatch Spartans"||April 19, 1997||Pamela Lee|
|"Spartans Practice" (aka "Cheerleaders Cold Opening"||October 4, 1997||Matthew Perry|
|"Spartans Dream"||December 6, 1997||Nathan Lane|
|"The Spartans at the Movies"||March 7, 1998||Scott Wolf|
|"Spartans Summer Camp"||May 9, 1998||David Duchovny|
|"Candy Striper Spartans"||November 21, 1998||Jennifer Love Hewitt|
|"Spartans Holiday Parade"||December 4, 1999||Christina Ricci|
- "Cheerleaders Cold Opening" as labeled on Yahoo Screen, dated October 4, 1997. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches
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