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The Spartan Cheerleaders

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 arch-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" 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

See also


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