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"Roseanne Roseannadanna" was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner, who appeared on "Weekend Update" in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live, aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). She was the segment's consumer affairs reporter who, like Radner's earlier character Emily Litella, gave editorial replies to current issues. Unlike Litella, Roseannadanna was brash and tactless, instead of meek and apologetic. The character was based on Rose Ann Scamardella, a former anchorwoman of WABC-TV's Eyewitness News in New York City. The character also later appeared in Radner's live one-woman shows.
Roseannadanna's Saturday Night Live commentary followed a strict formula. She read a letter from the ever-curious Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey (although, on one occasion, she read a letter from a "Mrs." Richard Feder, and on another occasion the Feders had re-located to Mount St. Helens, Washington). The letter would ask a series of questions, usually about a current social issue, to which Roseannadanna would reply, "Mr. Feder, you sure do ask a lot of questions for a guy from New Jersey," or "You belong in New Jersey!" Roseannadanna would then make derogatory comments about New Jersey before moving on to respond to the question. Richard Feder (pronounced as "Fay-der") was the name of an actual resident of Fort Lee who also happened to be the brother-in-law of SNL writer and segment co-creator Alan Zweibel.
While answering the questions, Roseannadanna invariably digressed, launching into lengthy anecdotes with no relevance to the topic at hand, frequently having to do with an encounter with celebrities (Bo Derek, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Princess Grace, Gloria Vanderbilt, etc.). Invariably, the story would lead into Roseannadanna's going into graphic detail about bodily functions or personal hygiene. The conceit was that the celebrities had told the graphic stories to Roseannadanna, who was only relating them to her audience. She would also relate her supposed response to the celebrities' stories, which was the rhetorical question and catch phrase, "What are ya tryin' to do, make me sick?!"
Eventually, Weekend Update co-anchor Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, "Roseanne, you're making me sick." Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna's response was, "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something—if it ain't one thing, it's another."
Her comments were wrapped up by sharing a piece of advice passed down from a family member (her father most often, but sometimes her "Nana" Roseannadanna; in one episode, she mentioned her aunt Pollyanna Roseannadanna, while in others, her "musically happening cousin, Carlos Santana Roseannadanna," her religious aunt Hosanna Roseannadanna, and her singing cousin Lola Falana Roseannadanna). In the final episode, she mentioned her fashion designer aunt, Murjani Roseannadanni.
The character had a tendency to refer to herself by her full name whenever possible ("Mr. Feder, I know what you're talkin' about, because, I, Roseanne Roseannadanna, once had the same thing happen to me.") and often exaggerated her tribulations, saying, "I thought I was gonna die!"
An example is her relaying of a story about eating a hamburger in a restaurant and feeling something hard in it. Roseannadanna spat it out to find it was white and looked like a toenail. She said, "I thought I was gonna die. I mean, what was a toenail doing in my hamburger?" Then she went to the restroom and on the way to the restroom she saw Princess Lee Radziwill who she described as the "classy lady that no one knows where she's the princess of." However, what the Princess didn't know was she had a tiny piece of toilet paper hanging off her shoe, and she was walking around and the toilet paper wouldn't fall off. "I thought I was gonna be sick. So I say to her, 'Hey Princess Lee—what are ya tryin' to do, make me sick?'. Jane Curtin asked her what this had to do with anything. Roseanne said, "Well it just goes to show you, it's always something, you either got a toenail in your hamburger or toilet paper clinging to your shoe."
In Radner's off-Broadway one-woman show, she included a sketch where Roseanadanna was invited to give the commencement speech at Columbia University. After disclosing that she was not the first choice for commencement speech and that the University only called her after Geraldo Rivera pulled out because he "had a boil that needed to be lanced", she attempted to prepare the new graduates for the hard road ahead by describing a job interview she'd had with CBS, in which Walter Cronkite mistakenly thought she'd "passed gas" and consequently kicked her out of his office. The character was later credited as "co-author" of Radner's book Roseanne Roseannadanna's Hey Get Back to Work. In the last year of her life, Radner released a memoir of her experience with ovarian cancer, entitled It's Always Something. Radner also recorded the book on audio, imitating Roseannadanna and other of her SNL characters when describing those parts of her life.
The character also appeared in Radner's 1979 one-woman-show, Gilda Live.
A bumper graphic with Emma Stone (who was the host that night) in the November 12, 2011 had Stone as Roseanne.