The sketch first appeared on January 12, 1991 starring Joe Mantegna as Bill Swerski along with Chris Farley as Todd O'Connor, Mike Myers as Pat Arnold and Robert Smigel as Carl Wollarski. Subsequent sketches starred George Wendt as Bob Swerski with occasional appearances by Beth Cahill as his daughter, Denise Swerski.
The inspiration for the characters were radio hosts in Chicago during the 1970s and 1980s. The name "Bill Swerski" was likely derived from Bill Jauss, the moderator of the WGN radio panel show "The Sportswriters" (1975-1993), and from WGN radio and WGN-TV sportscaster Chuck Swirsky.
The characters were typically shown in a sports bar, drinking large amounts of beer and gorging themselves on ribs, sausages, and similar foods. All of the characters wore dark sunglasses and thick mustaches to resemble Mike Ditka, the popular coach of the Chicago Bears at the time. Ditka was the idol of all the Superfans, so much so that Chris Farley's character, Todd, would have a heart attack in every sketch because Ditka had suffered one himself (In the Thanksgiving special, the Superfans thought Todd was having a heart attack but Todd garbly shouted, "I'm choking! Choking!" causing Carl to give Todd the Heimlich Maneuver, causing Todd to cough up what he was choking on: a full porkchop). The group would discuss upcoming sporting events and inevitably predict a victory for the Chicago team using an exaggerated Chicago accent, normally culminating in a uniform toast to "Da Bearss" and "Da Bullss".
Their predictions were likewise exaggerated and their topics of conversation often ludicrous. Typical debates concerned Mike Ditka versus a hurricane (in this particular debate, the Superfans believed that Ditka could defeat the hurricane, until it was revealed that the name of the hurricane was Hurricane Ditka); who would win in a competition for World Domination, "Da Bears" or "Da Bulls"; Mike Ditka winning the Indianapolis 500 driving the Bears team bus; or how many points Michael Jordan could score if he played an entire game by himself while sitting in a recliner. One episode featured a Jeopardy!-like game show (Bob Swerski's Quiz Masters) starring Bob Swerski as host and the other Superfans as contestants. All the questions dealt with the Chicago Bears, Chicago, or Mike Ditka.
The characters appeared in nine episodes in two years. With Ditka's departure from the Bears in 1993, the sketch and characters all but disappeared. The final appearance of the Superfans was on October 25, 1997 in an episode hosted by Farley. This sketch featured the first (and only) appearance by their idol Mike Ditka, although he was at the time coaching the New Orleans Saints, much to the chagrin of the Superfans. Farley's death two months later ended the possibility of future Superfan sketches.
The Superfans made a special appearance at the celebration of the Chicago Bulls' 1991-1993 "Three-peat" championship victory. The NBC television network interupted daytime television to broadcast the short speeches made by the Superfans.
In 2003, Bart Swerski (Bob's nephew, played by Horatio Sanz) was introduced on a Weekend Update segment with his uncle discussing the recent playoff failure of the Chicago Cubs. Instead of referring to the team as "Da Cubs," Bart said "De Cubs," but it was learned that this was due to a speech impediment.
In 2006, George Wendt returned in Superfan garb alongside Ditka for a sketch prior to Super Bowl XL.
In 2014, State Farm began releasing SNL-themed advertisements (mainly drawing from early '90s sketches). Several of these included George Wendt and Robert Smigel reprising their roles as Bob Swerski and Carl Wollarski, respectively. In these ads, however, they never referred to Chicago, the Bears, or the Bulls due to copyright reasons.