Between the end of shooting season 6 of 30 Rock and the beginning of shooting its final season, Tina Fey filmed the big-screen comedy Admission, which also stars Paul Rudd and Michael Sheen (a.k.a. Liz Lemon’s destiny-delivered “settling soul mate,” Wesley Snipes). And in between the end of shooting the movie and whatever is next on her agenda (a vacation, I hope), she answered the questions we lobbed at her about success, SNL and 30 Rock, and how to forge a career in comedy. See what she had to say.
From reader Trina Cress: You worked really hard to get to where you are today—at what point did you (1) feel you had “arrived” and (2) decide it was all worth it? (Of course, that’s assuming you feel you have arrived and have decided it was worth it.)
You never feel like you’ve permanently made it. It’s always a hill of sand. But any time you get to make up your own jokes and do a show with your friends, it’s worth it. Whether it’s in a tiny theater or for a tiny broadcast network.
From reader nklein: What advice would she give to other women?
Help each other. Also, just chip in and buy a bunch of tampons for the office so you don’t have to remember to bring them from home.
From reader Melissa Mayer Hall: I’m curious which aspect of your job you enjoy more, the writing or the performing?
Writing and performing are both very enjoyable, but in different ways. Performing is indulgent and exciting and fun. Writing gives you more of a sense of pride and accomplishment. Performing is like celebrating your birthday. Writing is like giving birth. Both wonderful experiences, but one is a lot more work.
From reader Mona Ascha: What do you think is one of the most common misconceptions about being a producer/writer for SNL and 30 Rock?
I think in my case a common misconception is that I do all this writing/producing by myself. At 30 Rock we have an amazing writing staff, captained by a guy named Robert Carlock. He is one of a few people I know who make me feel like a lazy idiot.
From discussion leader Leigh Torretta: When is Mean Girls 2 coming out? No, seriously—what’s the next big project coming up in your life?
I just finished shooting a movie called Admission, about which I’m very excited. 30 Rock will finish shooting its final season this December, after which I’m looking forward to being home more with my family, and trying to write another movie some day.
From deputy editor Maura Fritz: Aaron Sorkin has popped up a few times in your life: He was a guest artist at UVA, you famously needled him at the 2007 Writers Guild Awards, and then you brilliantly cast him as Aaron Sorkin to do a walk and talk with Liz Lemon. Is he your professional-life Wesley Snipes?
Ha! I like your white Wesley Snipes reference. Aaron Sorkin did us such a solid when he played himself on 30 Rock, he was so funny and self-effacing, he is no longer my imaginary nemesis.
From reader Isabelle Kafarela: My son and I have been long time fans of Tina Fey, more so my son. He is chomping at the bit to ask Tina Fey some questions, so here goes… (Tina—consider this a great mentoring session with my son :)):
Hi! My name is Brandon and I am honestly obsessed with you and your work! You have not gotten remotely close to disappointing me. My dream for my future is to work for NBC and help contribute to the continued success of the company. I would love to have your advice on what steps I should take to reach my goals.
My advice to you would is to watch lots and lots of good TV. TV is way better than movies these days anyway. If you want to create a show someday for NBC, I’d suggest you watch great shows like Cheers, Newhart, The Cosby Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Watch recent shows like The Larry Sanders Show, Arrested Development, The Office, and the British version of The Office. Then get to Chicago or New York or Los Angeles and take a class at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade or ImprovOlympic. Really educate yourself until you know what you think is funny.