R E D E Y E S P O R T S S E C T I O N
By Jerry Soverinsky
It’s hard to believe that any performance sharing a
stage with Vanilla Ice singing “Ice, Ice Baby” could ever
achieve broadcast distinction, much less a cult follow-
ing. But such has been the case with “Saturday Night
Live’s” Superfans sketch, first performed Jan. 12, 1991.
It has endured as one of the show’s most popu-
lar recurring sketches, and its trademark lexicon has
come to define the stereotypical Chicago sports fan.
The 1991 “SNL” episode, created by Chicago-trained
comedian Robert Smigel, featured guest host and Chi-
cago native Joe Mantegna.
As a longtime Chicago sports fan, Mantegna loved
the Superfan role; 16 years later, he’s still reminded of
“It’s everywhere you look,” he told RedEye recently,
while discussing the sketch’s popularity. “It’s become
part of the personality of the Bears and the city too.
Da Bears. Da Coach. Da Paul. It is Chicago.
“Everyone knows the Superfans, if not by name,
then at least by personality,” he said.
The clamor seems to be picking up again, Mantegna
said, and he’s been contacted by others for news sto-
ries leading up to Sunday’s big game.
The Superfans sketches featured Mike Dit-
ka clones—thick mustaches, sunglasses and heavy
Grabowski accents—feasting on huge slabs of red
meat, kielbasa and fried foods, and washing them
down with mugs of beer. The Superfans sat around a
table predicting the outcomes of Bears (and later Bulls)
games—with the “Da Bears” or “Da Bulls” winning by
some ridiculous margin.
Smigel, a New Yorker who did improv training in
Chicago in the early ’80s and later became an “SNL”
writer, told RedEye he developed the Superfans idea
from his own experiences with Chicago’s passionate
While he grew up a huge Knicks fan, he developed
an immediate attachment and appreciation for Chica-
go sports and its fans while working here
“One of my first weekends in Chicago, I went to
Wrigley Field,” he said. “I couldn’t bel