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At Nantucket Film Festival, a roundtable of ‘Saturday Night Live’ women

From left: Ophira Eisenberg, Anne Beatts, Jane Curtin, Heidi Gardner, and Sudi Green at the Nantucket Film Festival.
From left: Ophira Eisenberg, Anne Beatts, Jane Curtin, Heidi Gardner, and Sudi Green at the Nantucket Film Festival. (Sandy MacDonald for the Boston Globe)

Ophira Eisenberg (NPR’s “Ask Me Another”) kicked off the Nantucket Film Festival’s “Comedy Roundtable” over the weekend by asking the panelists — four “Saturday Night Live” vets, all female — their “SNL origin story.” Early contributor Anne Beatts (1975-80) boasted that she got in “on my back, the same way Catherine the Great got into politics” (she was head writer Michael O’Donoghue’s girlfriend at the time). Jane Curtin (also 1975-80) won her spot the hard way, by responding to an open call (she had honed her comedic chops with Cambridge’s storied Proposition troupe). Newcomer Heidi Gardner followed the unlikeliest of paths: a Kansas City native, she moved to LA not to act but to be a makeup artist/hairstylist. Ten years ago, she started taking classes with the Groundlings to “get over some social anxiety” and . . . a star was born. Asked what’s considered “too controversial” these days, everyone agreed that the envelope had “widened.” But so have the challenges: “Comedy is all about ‘heightened,’” said current supervising writer Sudi Green. “It’s really hard to do that these days.”