The Women of “Saturday Night Live”

Alexis Bledel & Lauren Graham


AGES (Left to right) Maya Rudolph, 28; Ana Gasteyer, 34; Beth McCarthy-Miller, 37; Tina Fey, 31; and Rachel Dratch, 35

WHY THEM? ''Saturday Night Live'''s mythic boys' club is officially over thanks to this clan of X-chromosomes: Dratch, Gasteyer, Rudolph, and Fey deliver trenchant comedy and flawless impressions on camera (Fey was ''SNL'''s first female head writer for two seasons prior to the ''Weekend Update'' gig); McCarthy-Miller is the show's third ever director.

SECRETS OF THE TRADE In comedy, ''you kind of have to neuter yourself,'' says Dratch, who finds glory in the supremely freakish (see her drooling love child of Angelina Jolie and her brother). ''It's maybe why I don't have a boyfriend.''

CAREER LOW ''I played an old schoolmarm who doesn't sing in a movie of the week musical,'' says Gasteyer of Drew Carey's 2000 ''Geppetto.'' ''A real nadir.''

CAREER HIGH ''Getting the phone call that I got 'SNL' -- even though Lorne [Michaels] was very subdued,'' says Dratch. ''He was like, 'Um, someone will be calling to set up the deal.'''

BEST ADVICE For Rudolph, it was a tip from Molly Shannon: ''No part is small. If you've got one thing in the show, be happy about that.''

CLOSEST BRUSH WITH CAREER IMMOLATION Rudolph skipped her first ''SNL'' audition to join the doomed CBS series ''City of Angels.'' ''I was worried if I didn't take the job I wouldn't work again.'' She got another tryout after she left the series.

INFLUENCES ''I learned a lot from Jon Stewart,'' says McCarthy-Miller, who helmed the comedian's talk show on MTV.

KNEW THEY'D MADE IT WHEN For Gasteyer, it was popping up in a New York Times crossword puzzle. ''I probably got 15 phone calls about that.''

DREAM COLLABORATORS Fey: ''Joan Jett, Julianne Moore, and Loretta Lynn.… And I'd like to meet Oprah -- if you want to print my phone number, she can call me.''

ULTIMATE AMBITION ''I'd love to direct an episode of 'The Sopranos,''' says McCarthy-Miller.

NEXT More ''SNL''; Gasteyer will appear in Broadway's ''The Rocky Horror Show''; McCarthy-Miller may direct MTV's Video Music Awards for the fifth time.