I would like to state for the record that I beat Jon Hamm at Words With Friends yesterday,” Tina Fey announces proudly. It’s just one more stellar accomplishment in Fey’s 15-year winning streak, which began behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live and has extended to film, publishing, uncanny political impressions, and now, apparently, smartphone games. During a break from shooting the seventh and final season of her NBC comedy 30 Rock (premiering Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.), Fey, 42, sat with EW to reflect on all of the above.
Tell me a little bit about the episode you’re shooting today.
We’re shooting a scene right now from episode 3 that I wrote. I discover that Tracy Jordan has tweeted, ”I agree @the RealStephenHawking. Women are just not funny — never have been, never will be. #plotpoint.” I’m determined to not engage him on this topic, but then he comes to me wanting me to book a funny monkey on the show that he saw on YouTube. And I say, ”This is an outrage — you don’t think women are funny. Why do you think monkeys are funny?” We get in a fight, and I get to this point where, against my better instincts, I decide that I’m going to prove to him that women are funny by me and Jenna reviving our greatest sketch from our two-woman show from the ’90s.
The ”women aren’t funny” debate is one you’ve been dragged into many times.
It’s one that now I feel free to opt out of because it’s just so boring. The fact that it’s still even talked about is just so, so boring and dumb — but ripe for just the kind of incredible, topical humor that we do only seven to eight months after the story breaks.
Obviously you’re not just the star of 30 Rock, you’re the boss — what’s the main challenge you’re facing today?
Today things are going smoothly. The biggest challenge was that I misread my own call time — I was a half hour late, which has not happened in seven years. Tomorrow will be a very challenging day because we are shooting with the monkey in question.
I saw the two pages of monkey rules that were distributed to the cast and crew.
I have not looked at that. I should look at that.
It basically says, Don’t make eye contact with the monkey or touch it.
I wouldn’t do that anyway. It’s the same rider that J. Lo. has. [Pause] Don’t get me in a fight with J. Lo., Kristen! She’s nice!
We’ll talk more about 30 Rock later, but first let’s travel back in time. In 1997, when you were writing and performing at Chicago’s Second City, you submitted some sketches to be considered for a writing job at SNL. Do you remember what they were?