Thread: [MADtv] Daniele Gaither
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Old 09/02/2006, 1:37 PM
Sharonite Male Sharonite is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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Here is the full text of that article you talked about earlier. Sorry it's so late, but I'm new here:

Comic Relief;
Laughter has indeed been the best medicine for St. Paul performer Daniele Gaither.

Neal Justin, Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune Staff Writer
(October 27, 2000)
Daniele Gaither is a fearless performer. As naturally as most of us flip TV channels, she can conjure up Patti LaBelle, Missy Elliot, Tina Turner or Della Reese, an ability that earned her a spot on the WB's new sketch-comedy series "Hype."

But while she's quite comfortable on stage and on the small screen, there is one place that makes Gaither uneasy: her hometown of St. Paul.

In January 1994, her father, Dr. Daniel Gaither, chief orthopedic surgeon at what was then St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, was visiting the home of his estranged wife, Evangeline. Gaither's parents had been living apart for several years, but were still married. Evangeline entered the kitchen area and fatally shot her husband. She then went to her bedroom and killed herself.

Since then, Gaither has rarely returned to the city.

"I miss the river, the air, the wide streets, the quietness of it," she said this past summer. But for me, it's more like I'm running from my family or running from my past, which doesn't really exist."

When chatting, Gaither fills the conversation with uninhibited laughter, the kind that could drown out Fran Drescher. But her voice becomes quiet when discussing her parents' deaths and the fact that she seldom talks to her older sister, Thea, who still lives in the Twin Cities.

"I never lost my sense of humor through that whole thing," she said. "It was hard and I did go through some dark times, but my dad always said, 'Life goes on. You have to use your gifts and do what you're going to do.' "

Gaither had already started her comedy career at the time of the murder-suicide. She performed in shows at Northwestern University in Chicago, from which she graduated in 1993, and honed her craft with the Groundlings, an acclaimed Los Angeles improv troupe.

It was there that "Hype" producers discovered Gaither as they were assembling a cast of unknowns with an endless supply of impressions. Co-creator Terry Sweeney said it was a Groundlings sketch about how black people let down their guard when white co-workers aren't around that got them interested in Gaither.

"At the audition, we would suggest impressions and she'd say, 'Well, I guess I could do that. About 20 impressions later, she had the job," said Sweeney, a "Saturday Night Live" alum. "She's very casual and laid back. She's not like, 'I'm a big superstar, I'm a big diva,' but she can do anything."

The bit that may have put her over the top: an Oprah Winfrey who sings everything out ("These are my pajaaaaaaaamas!") _ unless she's breaking into tears.

Fellow cast member Nadya Ginsburg said Gaither has the innate curiosity that every great impressionist needs. "It's like being an anthropologist," she said. "It takes some intelligence to see how people tick, and a sense of the absurd."

Gaither said she started doing characters at age 5, mimicking her parents and answering the age-old "how was your school day" question by re-creating her classmates and teachers. She relayed phone messages to her father in the voices of the callers.

"My mom would say, 'When you were little, you had so many voices, I thought you were from 'The Exorcist,' ' " she said.

Gaither hopes to reconnect with her hometown. She made a difficult visit last year for a high-school reunion and it went better then she expected, although it's obvious that many painful memories remain.

In the meantime, she has her sense of humor.

"Everybody has an inner life force," she said. "Even if there are 99 voices in your head that say life really sucks, you have to have one thing that makes life worth living. For me, that was performing. And if I didn't have that, I wouldn't have been able to wake up every morning."
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