Amy Poehler reveals how she stole Gilda Radner’s 'SNL' characters in exclusive 'Love Gilda' clip

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Gilda Radner based her classic Saturday Night Live characters on herself; Amy Poehler based hers on Gilda Radner.

With rare footage and a trove of personal photos, the documentary Love Gilda reflects on the life, death, and legacy of beloved comedian Radner, SNL‘s first female superstar. Unlike the characters of some other Saturday Night Live breakouts (we won’t name names), Radner’s are still funny decades later — perhaps because she identified so closely with the women she played. In the clip above, exclusive to Yahoo Entertainment, Radner describes her relationships with her classic characters, whereas fellow SNL alum Poehler talks about Radner’s influence on her own comedy.

“I only named those people for television. … They’ve always been inside me,” Radner says in a voice-over taken from an archival press interview. “After I’m done being interviewed all day,” she says, “I go right into Emily Litella,” the hearing-impaired, cranky “Weekend Update” commentator. “I can hardly walk, I can’t lie down, everything’s stiff,” Radner jokes. The character she says she “will most often slip into,” however, is Lisa Loopner, the sarcastic, frizzy-haired foil to Bill Murray in the original cast’s “The Nerds” sketch.

Gilda Radner in Love Gilda (Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

Other memorable Radner characters include filter-free, rambling reporter Roseanne Roseannadanna; Judy Miller, a Girl Scout Brownie with a wild imagination; Patti Smith-like rocker Candy Slice; and her Barbara Walters-spoofing Baba Wawa. Radner won an Emmy in 1978 for her work on SNL, and reprised her best-known characters in her 1979 one-woman Broadway show Live From New York.

Radner died from ovarian cancer in 1989, but her influence on comedy remains strong. In addition to Poehler, Radner admirers interviewed in the documentary include Melissa McCarthy, Bill Hader, Martin Short, and Maya Rudolph.

Love Gilda opens in limited release on Sept. 21.

Watch the trailer:

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