On Thursday, Nov. 8, hundreds if not thousands of people showed up to see Tina Fey in “An Evening with Tina Fey Moderated by Josh Horowitz.”
Before the evening even began, the excitement in the room was obvious. As soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd erupted into applause and cheers.
The evening turned out to be a funny, fascinating and motivating interview regarding the different parts of Tina Fey’s life. Topics ranged from her childhood to her college career and introduction to comedy to her career on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). Some of the topics included politics and the impact politics has on comedy.
Tina Fey wears multiple hats: writer, actor, comedian, producer. When asked how she defines herself, she answered, “Writer, because there is always some element of her having to write some part of her work.” I found this particularly interesting, because writers are often behind the camera, but Fey seems to be in front of the camera much of the time.
She wasn’t always in front of the camera, though. During the interview, Fey explained how she was an English major at the University of Virginia. She was also involved in the acting department in college, acting in plays and even writing a short play. Fey said the first time she heard people laughing at her jokes convinced her that she wanted to write comedy.
After college, Fey spent a few years in Chicago, learning the ropes of improv and comedy at The Second City before applying and finally getting hired as a writer on SNL.
A common theme in Fey’s interview was her lack of belief in herself. She emphasized that “Celebrities don’t look like us,” referring to her encounter with Sylvester Stallone during her first week at SNL. It’s funny to think that a person of Fey’s prominence doesn’t refer to herself as a “celebrity.” As Horowitz said to Fey, “The audience accepted you as an actor before you accepted you as an actor.” Fey’s response to this was the advice she received from Lorne Michaels, the producer of SNL: “It takes about two years before people recognize you on TV.” The funny part is that people did and do recognize Tina Fey, maybe not as a “celebrity,” but as a role model and an inspiration to all.
Tina Fey is an empowering feminist. During her first few years on SNL, Fey was one of four female writers. In addition, she was the show’s first female head writer. Of course, during the interview, Fey tried to brush it off by saying, “There hadn’t been that many co-writers,” but being head writer on SNL is a major honor. The role of the head writer is to manage other writers and actors and “try to convince people of how their work could be better.” This is a major responsibility, and one Fey handled with skill and ease.
The interview proceeded with Fey’s take on politics and how politics has changed comedy. Fey said the best job she had was hosting Weekend Update, because she could satirize the news, but “the news cycle was not as dire at that time.” Fey also mentioned that her time portraying Sarah Palin on SNL “feels very quaint,” because politics weren’t so polarized. Now, she says, comedians “are all so mad all the time.” Fey stated that comedians are comedians because they wanted to stand up to bullies, and “Comedy people hate bullies.” According to Fey, “Comedy people see Trump as a bully and they want to beat the shit out of them,” which I personally think is amazing.
When asked what advice she would give to college students, as a concluding thought to the night, she responded with, “Don’t dick around. If you want to do something or you want to live somewhere, just go.”
Tina Fey continues to be an inspiration. I’m excited to see where her career goes next and how she will continue to change the comedy world and the world at large.