Authors@Google: Tina Fey

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 21.04.2011

Authors@Google Presents Tina Fey
Fireside Chat With Eric Schmidt
[ Cheers and applause ] >>Tina Fey: Hi. Hello!
(Standing ovation). >>Tina Fey: Thank you.
[ Cheers and applause ] >>Eric Schmidt: I told you they would -- they
were excited. >>Tina Fey: Awesome.
>>Eric Schmidt: But the -- Tina, Tina Fey grew up in Pennsylvania. She spent a lot of
time in Chicago, big fan of Second City. She ultimately became the lead writer in Saturday
Night Live. And from there, architected one of the most successful shows on television.
And from there, had a huge impact in the last few years on politics and media and so forth.
And perhaps most important, she announced last week she's pregnant with her second child.
[ Applause ] >>Tina Fey: Thank you. Thank you, Eric.
>>Eric Schmidt: Welcome to Google. >>Tina Fey: Thank you very much. It's so nice
to be here. >>Eric Schmidt: I've been reading your book,
in fact, I read it. And I want to start with a reading --
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: I hope it's something about one
of my periods or something. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: There's a lot in the book about women things, which I'm not going to
quote from. "But now every girl is expected to have Caucasian
blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California
tan, a Jamaican dance-hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a" -- and
I'm going to omit the rest. "The person closest to actually achieving
this look is Kim Kardashian, who as we know was made by Russian scientists to sabotage
our athletes. Everyone else is struggling." [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: What does this mean? >>Tina Fey: This is a little section in the
book about the state of being a woman in 2010. In the book, I said, when I grew up in the
'70s and '80s, you were good looking or not. And if you weren't good-looking, you could
just, like, learn a trade and just relax. And there's this kind of feeling now that
if you are not good-looking, you are to Frankenstein yourself until you are. You are to buy new
teeth and hair and other assets. And so that's what we're living with now,
Eric. That's what we're -- >>Eric Schmidt: So her book is wonderful.
It's the funniest book you'll ever read. And it's a book not only about her growing up
and all the things that happened to her as a young woman, as well as a professional woman,
but a lot about life. And so it has a lot of lessons in it. So,
for example, stop. I've got a gun. >>Tina Fey: The gun I gave you for our wedding
anniversary, Eric? How could you? >>Eric Schmidt: We're not married.
>>Tina Fey: Aha, we're not married is a denial. We've learned our first improv lesson.
[ Laughter ] [ Applause ]
>>Tina Fey: It takes a long time to learn. >>Eric Schmidt: This is the problem with an
engineer trying to learn -- >>Tina Fey: It takes a long time to learn
those basic rules of improv. >>Eric Schmidt: Why don't you take us through
them. They're in the book. >>Tina Fey: I improvised at Second City, a
place called improv Olympic in Chicago. I talk in the book about improv kind of having
changed my professional life and even sort of my world view a little bit.
There are some basic rules of improvisation. When you're creating something out of nothing,
the first rule is to agree, which is to say "yes," which we did do that successful. You
said, "Freeze, I have a gun." I didn't say, "That's not a gun. That's your finger."
>>Eric Schmidt: Which is what a Google person would say.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
>>Tina Fey: And so we agreed. And the next rule is yes and, which is to add on to what
you've already agreed upon. So the gun, the gun I gave you for our wedding
anniversary. How could you? And then we hit a brick wall, Eric.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: But it's funny, because it's very
-- some very famous comedians -- there's an old story about Joan rivers was at the Second
City briefly, 1959, 1960, they used this in class at Second City all the time. There was
someone who came in and said I want a divorce was beginning the scene. She said, I want
a divorce. Whoever was with her said, what about the children? And she said, we don't
have any children, which, in the moment, got a big laugh, but killed the scene. So that's
-- it's a very -- >>Eric Schmidt: So my response would be --
>>Tina Fey: Human instinct. >>Eric Schmidt: Yes, we have children, I just
didn't tell you. That's why we're getting divorced.
>>Tina Fey: Yes, I have some other children. This is exactly why.
>>Eric Schmidt: Got it. >>Tina Fey: For me, it was a lot about being
-- you have to be open to any possibility and you're being open to the fact that -- an
idea that you stumble upon together is likely to be more interesting than the idea that
you started with as individuals. And all that stuff was very helpful as a writer.
>>Eric Schmidt: So when you were growing up, did you know that you would be funnier than
everybody else? >>Tina Fey: No. I mean --
>>Eric Schmidt: Did people tell you this when you were 13?
>>Tina Fey: No, people did not say, "You're so funny."
I think mostly what comedian -- people in comedy know at a certain age is that they
want to be funny. You know what I mean? You know you're really interested you and want
to do it. Then you don't know for a long time. I think at 13, it's -- manifests itself as
annoying. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: And then you hone it for, like, 25 years.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: And sometimes it's still annoying.
>>Eric Schmidt: One of the people who was, I think, the biggest influence on you was
Lorne Michaels. And in the book, you have a lot of discussion about Lorne and his rules.
He has a rule, for example, that don't work with people you can't hang out with at 3:00
in the morning. >>Tina Fey: Yeah. Don't ever hire anyone you
don't want to run into at 3:00 outside of the bathroom.
>>Eric Schmidt: He has another rule about Harvard and people who didn't go to college.
>>Tina Fey: Some are things that he actually says out loud and some are things that I just
sort of gathered from spending a lot of time with him.
But he just somehow knew that there was a -- the best mix for Saturday Night Live and
something I tried to apply at 30 Rock was to take a mix of Harvard people or Harvard-style
people, very cerebral, very organized, and then to mix them with kind of visceral, fun
sort of Chicago people. So you take --
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: These are two rather broad
brushes, I might add. >>Tina Fey: They are.
You take -- I'm trying to think of people -- you take Conan O'Brien and you put him
with Chris Farley. And then that is a mix that makes for good sketch comedy. Because
when one gets too cerebral, the other pulls it out. And it's -- it actually does work.
And too much of one or the other usually is not good.
>>Eric Schmidt: Yeah, you have another rule. Never tell a crazy person he's crazy. What's
prompted that rule? >>Tina Fey: It doesn't ever get you what you
-- you know, if someone comes to you in a workplace situation with sort of a strange
demand or -- like, they have a problem that you yourself don't see as a problem, it's
not really useful to say, like, "You're being crazy right now." It doesn't really solve
the situation. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Just makes them more upset. >>Tina Fey: Yeah, just makes them not trust
you. It's something -- because it's my instinct that I learned to kind of -- to move away
from was to be, like, "Stop being crazy. Just everybody be cool." Which is not a really
good management technique. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay. We'll try that. Just
be cool. >>Tina Fey: Everyone just knock it off.
>>Eric Schmidt: We -- [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Now, I think the most common question that you get of all is about gender
differences in comedy, comedy writers, comedy shows, and so forth.
And alarmingly, in your book, you actually do say that there's a difference.
>>Tina Fey: I admit to the -- the secret core difference that -- between male and female
comedy writers. Usually I try to -- people ask me that question a lot, what's the difference
between men and women in comedy and what do they like? And usually I try to just be so
boring that they lose interest in the answer and walk away.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: But -- 'cause I always say, well,
there's a tremendous amount of overlap in the middle of what men and women and all people
find funny. And then at the outset, you know, men kind of maybe like Sharks and robots doing
things more than women -- you know, the masturbating bear is over here and sort of over here is
absolutely fabulous kind of detailed character study things.
But the truth is that -- the secret truth is that times the men urinate in cups.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: Tell me --
>>Tina Fey: I don't know if that happens here. >>Eric Schmidt: First I've heard of it if
it's true here. >>Tina Fey: I said certainly not all of them,
but just, you know, compared to zero of the women.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: Can you imagine the women trying
to do that in their offices? It would be so much more difficult. Although not impossible.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: I think maybe we should move
to another section of the book. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: Also, the men sometimes pretend to rape each other. The women never do that.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: I deal in generalizations, but....
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: Never do it.
>>Eric Schmidt: Shall we move to the next section of the book? Okay.
Did you want to add any more? >>Tina Fey: No. That was it.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. Now, this book also has a lot of information
that's very helpful, as you become enormously famous and successful.
And one of them for yourself was how to pose. >>Tina Fey: Yes. How to be photographed.
>>Eric Schmidt: How to be photographed. And you've been photographed on everything. And
you're now widely, widely recognized. You tell the story of -- as a comedy writer, nobody
knew who you were. And now you're recognized everywhere.
>>Tina Fey: It's a weird thing. And I have actually been photographed in lots
of kind of formal model-like settings, kind of a lot of times now. And it's -- it is one
of the most fun things you'll ever do if you -- people like to pretend to complain about
it and say it's hard. It is delightful. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
>>Tina Fey: You are treated to, you know, like -- you're treated like a queen, like,
anything you want to eat? Do you want some kind of special coffee. You're always in some
beautiful loft space. And they try to put clothes on you that are made for -- they're
doll clothes. You should know if you see anyone you ever know in a magazine, their clothes
are gaping open in the back with large metal clamps. I don't care who it is.
>>Eric Schmidt: What's the best way to pose? >>Tina Fey: Best way to pose is first to -- you
have to let go of any rational understanding that what you're doing is ridiculous. So you
have to proceed as if it's going very well. You need to make as many angles with your
body as possible. It's just as many -- like, that's how you look, really, like to -- any
kind of (indicating). [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: You have to look in your face try to look like you took a Benadryl, like,
30 minutes ago or something. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: There are a lot of tricks. But most of it is just pretending like you have
to abandon your own sort of intelligence of, like, this is insane.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. Your relationship -- It's interesting that
you chose Alec Baldwin, and you did -- you and Lorne tried to hire him. He -- he initially
was not sure, and then he sort of said yes. And you talk both in the book and in interviews
about your view of him. Let me just read, because I think it's actually
worth hearing. "Everything I learned about real acting I
learned from watching Alec Baldwin. By 'real acting,' I mean an imitation of human behavior
that is both emotionally natural and mechanically precise enough to elicit tears or laughing
from humans. He's a master. He can play the emotion at the core of a scene. He is falling
in love, his mother is torturing, his mentor has been reincarnated as a peacock while reciting
long speeches word for word and hitting all the jokes with the right rhythm."
You like Alec Baldwin. >>Tina Fey: He's very good at acting. Yeah,
I do like him. >>Eric Schmidt: And the two of you carry the
show, as best I can tell. And sort of the -- the interaction between
the two of you. He, the -- just say overly self-confident executive, and you, the very,
very well-meaning writer. >>Tina Fey: Mm-hmm.
>>Eric Schmidt: Tell me about -- tell me about how it actually works.
Do you -- the stuff is written for you guys? Do you guys invent it?
>>Tina Fey: Oh, no. >>Eric Schmidt: He's funny by himself.
>>Tina Fey: He is funny by himself. But the show is very much written.
We shoot the show on film. And a lot of shows are shot on high-def video. But we shoot on
film. We sort of got in under the wire. They don't really let people do that very much
because it's more expensive. But it's also more kind.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: And as you can tell by that under.
>>Eric Schmidt: It's time for another one of those Benadryl pose things.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: So we don't have time to alter
very much during our shooting day. We shoot about 12, 14 hours a day.
And so we have an excellent writing staff. And they write for him. And we do table reads
of the scripts about a week before. So we, you know, read the thing aloud for a group
of about 25 people, and we -- so, you know, we all have the chance to kind of respond
to the script then. If Alec has any thoughts then, he gives them.
We do a rewrite of it. And by the time we're rehearsing and shooting, things are pretty
much locked. Every now and then you do find something fun in the moment that is that thing
I talk about of Harvard and humanity coming to meet. And sometimes you have to -- you
know, the Harvard brain has to think, okay, these humans think they've found something
in the moment. We'll let them do it. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: And that's sort of how it goes. Then we rehearse and we film.
>>Eric Schmidt: The -- I wanted to talk a little bit about -- you know, you were sort
of pretty famous, and then the Sarah Palin maneuver came along.
And what really happened was, she became a national candidate and people began to notice
the resemblance. And for a six-week period, you were number-one
topic in the national media of America. Let's talk about how that felt.
>>Tina Fey: Yeah. It was very weird. I went from being what I would describe as kind of
comfortably famous, which was if anyone knew me from Saturday Night Live or from 30 Rock,
it was because they had really watched it and, you know -- and that jump of that kind
of more just arbitrary fame, it's very strange. But --
>>Eric Schmidt: You were originally opposed to doing it. You didn't want her on the show;
right? >>Tina Fey: Well, I was -- I was talking to
Lorne about doing it because it was this kind of thing where if people just noticed that
we had a vague resemblance. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: Vague. And brown hair and glasses. I say, if she
-- if Sarah Palin had chosen contact lenses ten years ago, I would not be with you right
now. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: Because it was that basic glasses, brown hair thing. And people somehow knew
that I had been on SNL. No one seemed to notice that I did not work there anymore.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: That I had a new program that
was -- had been on for two years. And that even when I did work there, I only did the
news. But people were like brown hair, glasses. We get it. We want it.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: But I knew that that was -- I
knew people who were real impressionists, people like Darryl Hammond and Dana Carvey,
who, really, this is truly a gift they have. So I was reluctant at first.
But once we ended up doing it, it was really fun. About seven weeks into it, --
>>Eric Schmidt: She shows up. >>Tina Fey: -- she wanted to come, yeah. I
was, again, reluctant, because it was -- the election was getting sort of weird, and there
was ugly -- >>Eric Schmidt: Well, all of a sudden people
are dealing with you, because either they think you are Sarah Palin, right, or they
think you hate Sarah Palin -- >>Tina Fey: Right. They assume that I hate
-- >>Eric Schmidt: -- or all of a sudden all
the bad starts and politics comes out. >>Tina Fey: Yeah. I did find that there was
a weird gender difference in that people would -- I would accidentally put on cable news
during the day, just to get ready to go to SNL, and I would see someone and say -- I
saw a guy on there once talking about how he just thought I had really conducted myself
badly, and she had been so gracious about this. I was, like, I'm just doing sketches.
And people, you know -- I think there was a perception that it was mean in some parts
of the media, because -- and I think that was because it was two women, that that was
the only way they could process it, was it was mean. No one ever thought it was mean
of Will Ferrell to play George Bush. No one ever thought it was mean of Darryl Hammond
to play Bill Clinton. >>Eric Schmidt: And she was, in fact, gracious
to you personally. >>Tina Fey: Yeah, we had a nice chat.
>>Eric Schmidt: Later, she said she complained about your role in her campaign.
>>Tina Fey: We had a perfectly lovely day together. And then later, in some documentary,
she felt that Katie Couric and I had exploited her family for profit or something.
And I say, show me the receipt! [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: So we're getting ready for -- for the next season of 30 Rock. And you
also have a movie that you're going to work on.
>>Tina Fey: I do? >>Eric Schmidt: Yes.
>>Tina Fey: Which -- >>Eric Schmidt: That's what they said.
>>Tina Fey: Okay. I wonder what that is. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. >>Tina Fey: I have a couple movies I'm supposed
to be working on. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
So what does -- aside from the new arrival soon, what does the next few years -- I assume
if Mrs. Palin runs, you'll be back -- >>Tina Fey: I hope so. It's tricky, because
I don't work there. So at some point if they want to switch it to an actual SNL employee
so they can do it with the frequency they want, I would understand that. But I would
be available for that in 2012 if they need that.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: It's so fun to just go down, just
show up on Saturday and do one sketch and then start drinking.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: We have lots of -- lots of
questions from you all. We also -- I sent a series of tweets to get
questions from people outside of Google as well.
Let me throw a few at you. >>Tina Fey: Okay.
>>Eric Schmidt: And then after a few minutes, we'll also get some questions here from folks
here in the audience. We have 47 video conferences going on in addition
to the people in this room. >>Tina Fey: Wow.
>>Eric Schmidt: So we have a lot of people watching.
>>Tina Fey: (Waving). [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: This is from Briana, a Googler. Who's your favorite guest star on 30 Rock?
Favorite host from your SNL days? Why? >>Tina Fey: We've had so many guest stars
on 30 Rock that we have been so lucky. My favorite. I mean, we had -- there are people
that just to meet them was a dream come true for me. We had Tim Conway. Everyone here maybe
is too young to remember who that is. But who was on. He was a favorite of mine.
Jan Hooks playing Jane Krakowski's dirt-bag mother is a favorite of mine, because I grew
up watching her at SNL and loving her. People like Jon Hamm who just now is like a member
of the family. >>Eric Schmidt: Oh, he's phenomenal.
>>Tina Fey: And he's so funny. Yeah, there's, like, a million of them.
>>Eric Schmidt: This is from Jenny, also a Googler. Given how hilarious everyone on the
30 Rock cast is what's the average number of takes that you have to redo because everyone
is cracking up. >>Tina Fey: Because everyone is laughing?
We do a lot of takes because no one knows their lines.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: But I would say actual cracking
up happens only when there's also a lot of fatigue involved.
Jack McBrayer gets the giggles every now and then. Alec almost never ever breaks. I would
say once a month there's a gigglefest. >>Eric Schmidt: Interesting. So this is professionals;
right. >>Tina Fey: Very professional.
>>Eric Schmidt: You're professionals. This is from a fan of yours in Macedonia.
>>Tina Fey: Okay. >>Eric Schmidt: Which is still a country.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: Hi, Tina. One of the reasons
I love 30 Rock so much is the amazing chemistry between you and Alec Baldwin. Who do you think
is or was the actor/actress you've had the best chemistry with? Does it come naturally
or does it require a lot of work? >>Tina Fey: That's a good question.
Well, I think it probably would be Alec, because I've never -- well, that's not -- I guess
at this point, I've been on screen for more minutes and hours than I was with Amy Poehler
or Jimmy Fallon. I think those things come naturally. I don't think you can fake them.
Although maybe he's good at faking it. Maybe he's --
>>Eric Schmidt: My favorite scene is the one with Alec Baldwin where he is -- he's obsessed
about meetings and he has to go to the meeting about meetings.
>>Tina Fey: Yes. And he wants to be on the cover of meetings magazine.
>>Eric Schmidt: That's my own ambition. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: This is from a fan from Auburn, Alabama.
Hi, Tina. Apart from Comedy Rules, will we ever see
you in some serious roles for films or television? Do you also enjoy doing serious or dramatic
roles if you can get them? >>Tina Fey: I would like my career to drift
toward being a judge on Law and Order. [ Cheers and applause ]
>>Tina Fey: I feel like the hours and the outfit appeal to me.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: I think it would be fun to do.
But I think I don't know that anyone would ever let me do a wholly serious role.
>>Eric Schmidt: This is from a fan in Michigan. Thanks for being such an inspiration to young
women. You're my hero. If you had one word of advice for aspiring
20-something female writers and entrepreneurs, what would it be?
>>Tina Fey: Not literally one word? [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Now you're behaving like a Googler.
>>Tina Fey: Yeah. >>Eric Schmidt: Don't be so literal.
>>Tina Fey: Gosh, I -- I think my advice would be to trust your gut, to trust your gut creatively
and in any kind of workplace situation. 'Cause the few times that I look back on anything
that, oh, I wish I would have done this differently, it's when I had a sense to it, but I didn't
follow up on. >>Eric Schmidt: That's interesting.
Another question from a fan in Michigan. Sorry, from -- different one -- from a Googler
named ZVE. You said you incorporate actual quotes from your daughter into 30 Rock. Quote,
I want to go there, unquote. Are there other examples, how old is your daughter?
>>Tina Fey: She's five and a half. "I want to go to there" was something that
Liz Lemon said that she saw when she saw the Web site for Disney World the first time.
And -- [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: In your book, you rate activities with your daughter roughly equal to everything
else you've accomplished. >>Tina Fey: Yeah, for sure.
I look back, if I go through my phone and there's these weird chunks of time where it's,
like -- because I have, like, 4,000 pictures on my phone. And it'll be, like, pictures
of us at SNL doing the Sarah Palin thing, and then taking her to her first day of preschool,
and then going to the Emmy's. And there's things on the table. And then coming back.
The phone is a good way to see what is actually -- you're really actually doing in your life.
>>Eric Schmidt: And we want you to use a more powerful phone.
[ Applause ] >>Eric Schmidt: And we have a lot of applications
that can help you with what you can go, what you can do.
>>Tina Fey: Awesome. >>Eric Schmidt: This is what we do. We're
good at it. >>Tina Fey: Was it because I did that, you
can tell -- >>Eric Schmidt: When your daughter gets older,
you can keep track of your daughter. Trust me, you're going to want our phones.
>>Tina Fey: Subdermal chip. >>Eric Schmidt: That's been proposed. But
we're not quite there yet. >>Tina Fey: I'm trying to think of what other
lines. She -- when she sits -- if she sits like this, when she -- she calls this sitting
on her knees butt. So we use that. That makes sense. Tracy Jordan talking about his knees
butt. It usually works out very well for Tracy Jordan's character. They have a lot of similar
interests. They both get really excited at Benihana. And they have to be told they can't
have McDonald's every day. They're similar people.
>>Eric Schmidt: This question is too embarrassing. I'll let you read it.
>>Tina Fey: (Laughing) This is a Googler. I don't know what these numbers and things
are. But this is -- this is an easy one. Can Eric Schmidt get a guest appearance on
30 Rock? I would say absolutely.
[ Cheers and applause ] >>Eric Schmidt: I just wanted to prove that
I did not submit that question. >>Tina Fey: Well, you could have typed this
fake number. >>Eric Schmidt: We will give -- I did not
type that. We'll give this employee a raise, however.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: Her name is Julie.
>>Tina Fey: Julie, yes. This -- absolutely. In a universe where our
guest stars have been everywhere from jack Welch to -- which -- Bob Ballard. We tried
to get the real Bob Ballard. But he wasn't available.
You're just the kind of guest star that would keep our ratings --
>>Eric Schmidt: Low. >>Tina Fey: -- low.
>>Eric Schmidt: Next question. [ Cheers and applause ]
>>Eric Schmidt: This is from a fan from Fresno, California. The entire question is, pirates
or ninjas? Question mark. >>Tina Fey: I've been asked this question
before. Recently. >>Eric Schmidt: I'm not making it up.
>>Tina Fey: Yes. Chasa Melton, your screen name.
I think I said pirates the last time, because I think --
[ Cheering. ] >>Tina Fey: I think you're by the water, pirates.
And I like the outfits better. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Another question. This is from a Googler.
In 30 Rock flash backs, you often depict yourself as a geek in high school. And your Mean Girls
script identifies more with the uncool crowd. What's your actual experience? Is it more
sort of comedic value? Were you sort of geeky? Because in the book, you describe yourself
as sort of growing up a little bit tentative. >>Tina Fey: Mm-hmm. I was sort of geeky. Also,
I think that almost everyone perceives themselves as being on the outside in high school.
>>Eric Schmidt: There are no insiders at high school.
>>Tina Fey: Except those two kids. And they don't look that great now. They peaked at
19. Yeah, and I was very --
>>Eric Schmidt: Called revenge of the nerds. >>Tina Fey: Revenge of the nerds. Look where
we are. [ Laughter ]
[ Applause ] >>Tina Fey: Yeah, I was a -- like, an AP student,
on the newspaper, and Enquire. >>Eric Schmidt: Typical overachiever.
>>Tina Fey: Yeah. I mean, I was an achiever. There were better achievers. But yeah.
>>Eric Schmidt: Yeah. The -- another question from a fan in Munich.
Hi, Tina. Do you sometimes Google yourself? >>Tina Fey: No. No. It's exceeded a level
where no -- really, no good will come of it. >>Eric Schmidt: We encourage people to use
Google. >>Tina Fey: Yeah, I use Google a lot. But
I don't Google myself. Because, inevitably, terrible, terrible things come up. And I have
tried to explain to my parents to not -- they have -- I think they have a Google alert on
my name. That's not a good thing for parents. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Wait until your child does it.
>>Tina Fey: Oh, I -- >>Eric Schmidt: What's mommy up to.
>>Tina Fey: Yeah, it's -- me and Jon Gosselin, that's what we're worried about.
>>Eric Schmidt: A question from a fan in Mexico. What high-tech gadgets do you use?
>>Tina Fey: Not so many. I mean, I use an iPhone and an iPad.
Is that bad? That's what I use. Do you guys make --
>>Eric Schmidt: Come on, guys. We have lots of Google services on these products.
>>Tina Fey: Yeah. I have -- yeah, I have Google products on there.
And computers. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: I use computers. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
>>Tina Fey: To write scripts. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
>>Tina Fey: And that's about it. >>Eric Schmidt: We're going to outfit you
a little bit better now that you've visited Google.
>>Tina Fey: All this kind of stuff -- >>Eric Schmidt: Another question from a Googler.
If you're going to be a nerd, you might as well have all the right gear.
>>Tina Fey: Yes, that's true. >>Eric Schmidt: Any advice for new or wannabe
comedy writers. >>Tina Fey: I say go to Chicago, New York,
or Los Angeles if you can. You can find a lot of improv comedy in other cities. But
try to get to an Upright Citizens' Brigade Theater to take class, if you can, in New
York or Los Angeles, or at ImprovOlympic Theater in Chicago, Second City, and just to do it
as much as you can. Do it, you know, five, six nights a week if you --
>>Eric Schmidt: Do you believe a lot of this can be taught? Improv can be taught? The writing
can be taught? Comedy is both an art as well as a science?
>>Tina Fey: Yeah. The basic rules can be taught. But I have taught improv at Second City. I
used to be a teacher there. And you can teach the rules to a certain point. But then about
six months in, it's -- there's a -- there's people who can truly -- who truly fit that
kind of work and people who don't. >>Eric Schmidt: That's true of a lot of things,
I think. Why don't we get some folks here asking questions.
Go ahead, yes, ma'am. >>> Hi, Tina. Actually, my question follows
nicely to the last one we just had. I was wondering if -- I kind of assume that
from that first day that you took a class at Second City to maybe, like, that first
day when you started at SNL, I imagine that was a bit of a long road full of fun, but
also full of a lot of challenges. I was wondering if you could talk a little
bit about that experience and maybe share any advice for somebody who wants to go down
a similar road. >>Tina Fey: I started class, I moved to Chicago
in 1992 on -- on Halloween of 1992, and started class January. And it was a very fun road.
It was cult-like, the improv world, it's all-encompassing. Like I said, all you did was take class, try
to get on stage, watch other people on stage. I mean, I think immersing yourself in it like
that is good. And I do look back on things that -- I took
it all so seriously, even though it was nonsense kind of business. I took it all very seriously.
I remember my boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband, he was the piano player at
the theater. And I was saying, I think we should keep it a secret that we're dating
because I think it will affect the team, and people will feel -- and it was like, at improv
-- we're now married for ten years. I think we should tell them now about what was going
on. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: But just find people who are as into it as you are and just do it as much
as possible. Things that were -- did seem like a big deal
at the time, now I can barely remember sort of the politics within the touring company
of whose piece is going to get in. All that stuff that seems super serious, it is serious
in the moment, but it will also get easier as you go.
But, yeah, anything with comedy, I think you just have to get in front of an audience as
often as you can. Because that's the only way to know if you're doing it right.
>>Eric Schmidt: We would prefer you to stay as a Google employee.
[ Laughter ] >>> We have an office in Chicago, so....
>>Tina Fey: Right on. >>Eric Schmidt: Very good.
Yes, ma'am. >>> So my friend Robin, she's like moved out
to L.A. and she's an aspiring TV/movie writer. It's not me.
But, basically, I was just curious what differences there are in the process for writing for TV,
like, say, 30 Rock, versus writing for movies, like, say, Mean Girls.
>>Tina Fey: Well, let's see. I've only written the one movie of my own. So I have sort of
limited experience. But with TV, the difference is I think you
can come into it and try to get a job as a staff writer and learn that way. With movies,
you're going to maybe be writing scripts on spec. You're going to be -- you'll be alone
a lot more. I think TV is a great training ground, if you can even -- even break in as
a writer's assistant is a great job to have as the person in the room who's taking all
the notes, constantly, all day, you really can learn a lot doing that. We have some -- We
have had two writer's assistants who now are staff writers, one at 30 Rock, Tracey Wigfield,
and another guy, who's Andrew Guest, who writes for the show Community. And so that is a really
great way to learn TV writing. And movies, it's -- I think it's so tricky
to break in, because I don't even know -- screen writing, I don't know how -- I was only able
to get into it because of Lorne Michaels and having come from Saturday Night Live. I got
into it through television. I guess you could write and try to make your
own short films and build up that way would be the -- but you're going to have to give
your friends money and stuff. >>Eric Schmidt: Go ahead.
>>> Hi, Tina Fey. >>Tina Fey: Hi.
>>> First off, thank you for being the Gilda Radner of our generation.
>>Tina Fey: Oh, gosh. Thank you. >>Eric Schmidt: Very well said. I agree.
>>> So I have a couple of quick questions for you. One is, what's your best joke? Because
I want to steal it. Number two, what nickname does Tracy Morgan
use for you? And number three, a fortune teller told me
that Jon Stewart was going to retire from The Daily Show in 2020 and that you were going
to take over. So what are your thoughts on that?
>>Tina Fey: A fortune teller told you that? >>> Yes.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: In 2020 -- let's see. It's -- I
think -- >>Eric Schmidt: Nine years.
>>Tina Fey: Nine years. Thank you. [ Laughter ]
I think I'll be in -- in nine years, I think it will actually be illegal for a woman my
age to be on television, so -- [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: What was the second question? >>> Tracy Morgan.
>>Tina Fey: He calls me T Fey. Mostly T Fey. Yeah. He doesn't have as many nicknames for
me -- this is one, he goes, "T Fey, you know you're the Isus in the hood."
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: I don't know what that means.
I go, "I know. I know. Thank you." And you asked me what was my best joke in
terms of something that was actually on TV or something? Or something I --
>>> Something I could use to make people laugh. >>Tina Fey: My -- honestly, my favorite joke,
just handy, everyday joke, just put a little chocolate on your teeth and act like you don't
know it's there. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Go ahead. >>> Hi, there, Tina.
>>Tina Fey: Hi. >>> I know this season in 30 Rock was the
first time where you've actually been able to do a live show. From my understanding,
that was a huge accomplishment and a real challenge for the show to be able to do.
My question is what other barriers are you hoping to break with 30 Rock or what are some
of your upcoming dreams that you are hoping to achieve with the show?
>>Tina Fey: That's a good question. We did the live show this year, it was very exciting
and challenging. We did it -- >>Eric Schmidt: Did you two; right?
>>Tina Fey: We did two. We did one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast.
And it was really, really fun to do, because it was -- we did it in Studio 8H where Saturday
Night Live is done. So it was a blending of the 30 Rock crew with the SNL crew, and it
was -- and it was really challenging technically because with SNL, you have 90 minutes and
all these kind of built-in structures to the show to -- for the show to come in at the
right time. They have, you know, when you see the band playing, the band bumpers, different
things, commercial parodies, things they can use to control the timing of the show. And
we had about 22 minutes, because they gave us a little bit of extra time.
That was the biggest challenge, was, like, would we get through the show before the -- before
The Office just started in the middle of the show.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: That was kind of thrilling.
And we did -- another thing we did this year that was a format change was one episode called
the queen of Jordan, which was set in a reality show. That was Tracey Wigfield, who used to
be a writer's assistant, wrote that. I'm trying to think what else. People sometimes
ask if we ever would do a musical episode, which I think we're -- certainly would be
fun to do. But other people have done that. I don't know. Yeah, Claymation.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: I don't know. Community did Claymation.
I would like to do what I keep referring to as a Bugsy Malone episode, which is -- was
a movie before everyone here was born, where it was a gangster movie. Do you remember this
movie? With a young Jodie Foster in it. And it was all children.
I would like to maybe do an episode where all our characters are played by children.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Or my suggestion is, have a real Christmas party and invite all of us
to join your real Christmas party by television. >>Tina Fey: That's a great idea.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. Go ahead. >>> First of all, thanks for coming. And 30
Rock is one of my favorite shows on television. I think there was an episode where I laughed
for 30 minutes after it was over. I couldn't stop to breathe. I think that was when Tracy
was going on about the dogs running the Wendy's. But my actual question was, you also had an
episode where you provided some much-needed closure to night court. And as someone who
is an '80s TV nerd, I was wondering if there were any other sitcoms from the '80s that
you were going to do that with. I know it's difficult to plot in. Obviously, that might
have been a one-shot thing. But if you couldn't answer that, then sort
of like, growing up, did you watch a lot of television? And it seems like -- reading the
writing on 30 Rock, it seems like you were also a TV fan. Maybe that's not true. I was
wondering if you could comment on how that influenced --
>>Tina Fey: No, I was a big TV fan growing up. Night Court, Cheers, Mary Tyler Moore
and Carol Burnett, all those things. Our staff is a generation of people who really
grew up on half-hour comedy, good and bad. There's the -- 'cause there's the sort of
Who's the Boss, Saved by the Bell era that I -- and Full House. I've seen a lot of Full
House, and never on purpose. [ Laughter ]
[ Applause ] >>Tina Fey: I had a summer job once at a summer
theater where we would work in the costume shop all day, and then my roommate and I had,
like, 45 minutes to go home before going back to be dressers in the show. And we would go
home every day and the only thing on was Full House. And we watched it every day.
But, yeah, is there any TV -- other show that you would like us to try to have on?
>>> That's tough. I mean -- >>Tina Fey: We had -- teen witch was also
a thing. >>> I always felt that the indigo new heart
people felt it was more funny -- >>Eric Schmidt: Let's go to our next question.
>>Tina Fey: You can get back to me. >>Eric Schmidt: Thank you.
>>> Hi. >>Tina Fey: Hi.
>>Eric Schmidt: Hi, Tina. My name is Kevin. And my question is, I recent watched Ponyo,
and I noticed you were one of the voice actors in that movie. How did you get into voice
acting? >>Tina Fey: I was asked to revoice Ponyo,
because it was in Japanese at first. I was really excited to do it because I think that
kind of stuff is fun and cool to do. And I since have done just one other one that was
from scratch. It's very different. This Megamind movie you do from scratch and you're kind
of improvising. But the funny and sort of challenging thing with Ponyo was that the
animation is done, and you have to -- and they've --
>>Eric Schmidt: You have to sync to it. >>Tina Fey: -- you have to sync to the lip
flap as they call it. And also there were a lot of fun sort of nonverbal
things in Japanese where -- in English, some of us -- we might go, like, huh? Or hmm, or
weird nonverbals. In Japanese, we're, like, yaaa. We have to figure out what kind of an
English language nonverbal. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay. Our next question. >>> Hey, Tina. We're all so excited you're
here. But my question is in your book you go through
a lot of different writers from 30 Rock and your favorite zingers. What's your favorite
one? And was it or not the Sbarro line? Because that's my favorite.
>>Tina Fey: Which was the Sbarro line? >>> When Alec Baldwin is talking about all
the New York royalty, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies.
>>Tina Fey: All the important New York families will be there, the Rockefellers, the Sbarros.
Right. That's not mine. I actually meant to -- I forgot to give myself
one in the book. And I had checked on the one that I was going to give myself and confirmed
with -- because sometimes you want to -- you want to make sure that it was a joke that
you wrote. And the one I was going to give myself but
I forgot was in season one, when I asked Alec, why are you wearing a tuxedo? And he says,
it's after 6:00, what am I, a farmer? [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: That's my favorite one. >>Eric Schmidt: I just love the caricature
of senior executives. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Yes. >>> Hi. I'm actually really curious about
your life as a parent, especially because you're the mother of a daughter. And I'm wondering,
with all the messages of princesses and damsels in distress and whatnot, you would think about
having Tina Fey as her mom might make being intelligent and funny cool. But what I know
about kids, that isn't always the case. You can still be pressured and just soak it all
up. So being five and a half, looking at your
daughter and how that's going, what are your thoughts on parenting daughters?
>>Tina Fey: So far, my take on the princess thing was -- and I wonder if I would be the
same way if I had a son and he just really wanted guns. Because the princess is, I'm
not going to fight it. We can have these princess toys and then it will kind of -- but if I
had a son and I gave him as many guns as my daughter has princess dolls, I would be arrested.
[ Laughter ] >>Eric Schmidt: Not in Utah.
>>Tina Fey: Not in Utah. >>Eric Schmidt: Not in Arizona.
>>Tina Fey: But I do try to kind of question, as we -- we play with all the princess -- and
then we got in, when she was smaller, the rhythm of she would always want to play Barbies.
And the game she coined was two girls fighting over the prince, and they both want to marry
the prince. And it was this game where these two Barbies sabotage each other. And this
is natural. And I would try to question it as we play. I would say, why do they want
to marry the prince? They don't have to marry the prince. And she's like, you're wrecking
it. So I'm just hoping if I don't force it to
stop, it will go away on its own. >>Eric Schmidt: Yes.
>>> Hey, Tina, thanks for coming today. Everything has been thought-provoking for me. I went
to Harvard but grew up in Chicago. >>Tina Fey: Perfect.
>>Eric Schmidt: You're trying to fulfill both quotas.
>>> I. wearing flannel but loafers. Something to think about.
The question for you is what's inspiring you now? What are you reading?
>>Tina Fey: What am I reading now? I just finished -- I don't get to read for pleasure
very often. So I finished Steve Martin's novel about the art world, which I enjoyed very
much, An Object of Beauty. And I just bought at the airport but I haven't started yet,
Anne Lamott's newest novel. And I'm reading a lot of baby name books.
>>Eric Schmidt: Google has a suggester. >>Tina Fey: They do?
>>Eric Schmidt: Yes. Just type in "girl baby names."
>>Tina Fey: Oh, I've done that. Yeah. >>Eric Schmidt: There's a lot of choices.
Yes. >>> Hi, Tina. I represent the human side of
the employees that work here. So maybe not the Harvard side.
I went to a university called Salisbury, and people confuse it with chicken-fried steak
university. So I have this friend Robin, and.
>>Tina Fey: The same friend? >>> Yeah. She works in L.A. And she works
at a tech company. And she -- it's probably more like self-deprecating in terms of her
personality. And Robin is concerned with how that's perceived in the workplace and how
to balance that and actually getting respect from her coworkers.
So I know that's a personality trait you have as well, but you are so successful. So do
you have any advice for Robin? >>Tina Fey: For Robin. Robin is a mess, by
the way, because Robin -- two problems that Robin has.
No. >>Eric Schmidt: She's asked for help.
>>Tina Fey: That's good. That's the first step.
I think it's one thing to have a self-deprecating personality. But you don't want to be self-deprecating
about your work abilities. And in the book, I talk a little bit about one of the rules
of improv is to make statements as opposed to ask questions, which in improv is just,
you know -- if I say, like, who are you? Why are you here? What should we do now? Then
I'm putting all the burden on you, my partner. And I say -- sometimes that also applies to
women even just with our voices in the workplace, to speak confidently and to try to avoid that
kind of, "I have an idea." I'm just like, I don't know if it's a good idea. Just to
make statements. But I think it's -- yeah, to -- to try -- to
prevent yourself from prefacing your work with any kind of apology. You know, I have
friends -- I have a friend who's writing a pilot right now and I have another friend
who was going to be working with her. And I said, here is her deal. She's going to -- this
is her routine, she'll say for 30 seconds, I don't know, I don't think -- I think this
real stinks. And you have to just let her say that. And then she does know, and she
-- it doesn't stink. So if you can see that, if you have that behavior
in yourself and you can just kind of skip that part, you know, if you can just kind
of fast-forward the pre-apology part. Sometimes I think -- I do think sometimes
what would a man do in any given situation. And they don't apologize so much.
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: They don't, like, preapologize
for things. >>Eric Schmidt: Yes, ma'am. Why don't we have
this group be the last questions. >>> I'm feeling shorter than usual, which
is awesome. So I'm a young mother myself.
And for me, you know, the work-life balance struggle hit me a lot harder than I anticipated.
And I think that's a common experience across parenthood in general, and would love to hear
your experience from the comedy world and the, you know, Hollywood world about how your
life changed after having kids and how you've structured your time to find that balance,
if that's been at all possible. >>Tina Fey: Well, I think the biggest change
is that your priority is just shifted and that you want to go home. And in some ways,
I think it makes you a better employee. >>Eric Schmidt: You're more efficient.
>>Tina Fey: You're more efficient. I would have spent a lot of time at SNL, you know,
before I was married just sort of hanging out in people's offices. And some of that
is valuable to the creative process. But you don't need nearly as much as you think.
And so that's the thing is, you just -- you just -- managing your time better. You're
going home as soon as you can -- as soon as you can.
And I think -- someone asked me about this recently. I don't know if you find this to
be true, but sometimes there's a -- we have a reluctance to really admit the specific
details, like, you're not even -- it's hard, but when people say, yeah, but what time are
you really -- like, what time do you leave and what time do you get back? And you're
like, don't worry about it. It's none of your -- it's because you feel like people are going
to judge you. And I don't -- I think it's probably better, you know, for us to be honest
with each other. But it is tricky sometimes to say, like, yeah, these were very long hours.
And I just -- you don't do much else; right? You just kind of do your work and go home
to see your kid. That's kind of -- and then you realize, like, well, I haven't seen a
movie in, like, four years. But -- >>> Except your own; right?
>>Tina Fey: Except my -- I've been made to go to a premier of one that I worked on.
But it's -- and also another thing that I find that people don't tell you is that the
amount of kind of energy that goes into the relationship you have with your child's caregiver,
whoever that is, that was one, I was like, oh, this is a person -- this is a relationship
-- >>Eric Schmidt: It's a proxy. You better get
it right. >>Tina Fey: -- that needs -- this relationship
takes a lot of kind of time and energy. And that was one thing that now I feel like I've
gotten better at it. When you're first doing it, you feel kind of trapped by that. So that
-- I don't know how old your child is. But that does get a little better.
>>Eric Schmidt: Go ahead. >>> Hi. Hi, Tina. Thank you so much for coming.
It's hard not to talk to screen Tina, since you're so big.
All right. So as a person who is such a big fan of TV all your life, you've probably seen
shows that have wonderful actors and great concept but horrible writing, like glee.
And -- >>Tina Fey: You said that, not me.
>>> I said that. Yeah, I know. And so as a writer, I was wondering if there's
a TV show in either recent history or that's going on right now that you feel like maybe
if I took this on, this would be better. >>Tina Fey: Oh, that I could fix it?
>>> If you -- you could. >>Tina Fey: I -- no. I think --
[ Laughter ] >>Tina Fey: No. I thought you were going to
ask me what TV shows I thought were well written. I was getting ready to answer that.
>>Eric Schmidt: Well, you could answer that question instead.
>>Tina Fey: I was going to say the Larry Sanders Show and I think Mad Men is really well written.
Here, I don't get to watch -- I hear breaking bad is --
>>Eric Schmidt: Breaking bad is phenomenal. >>Tina Fey: I haven't actually seen it.
>>Eric Schmidt: Yes, ma'am. >>> I just wanted to see if you have any similarities
to Liz Lemon, because I love her. >>Tina Fey: I do --
>>Eric Schmidt: Well, what do you think? >>Tina Fey: I do have a lot of similarities.
I feel like Liz Lemon is -- if I sort of -- it's sliding doors kind of version of me. If I
had stayed kind of in the way I was when I first was head writer at SNL and was throwing
myself entirely into that job. But I have a different home life than she
does, which is very different. The sad thing is, people always say, she dresses -- why
is she so slovenly and you let her be so ugly. And I was like, she dresses so much better
than I would if I were going to 30 Rock to actually write for a day. Liz -- the way Liz
Lemon is dressed is how I would be if I was, like, trying to pull it together to go to
a friend's house for dinner. [ Laughter ]
>>Tina Fey: So we're pretty similar. >>Eric Schmidt: Okay.
Yes, sir. >>> Hi.
>>Tina Fey: Hi. >>> You mentioned Tim Conway, who I'm old
enough to remember seeing on the Carol Burnett show when I was a kid.
And it made me think that one of the funniest bits that I remember seeing in comedy in general
was when he interacted with Harvey Korman and they would crack in the middle and they
would start laughing. And it was an in the moment type of comedy that is obviously lacking
from TV. I suppose you experience that in improv and
SNL as sketch comedy. How is it making the transition to television where you edit those
scenes out? >>Tina Fey: Yeah. Well, those were -- I mean,
those things -- the Carol Burnett show was in front of a live studio audience. So there
is a kind of immediacy. And it does happen. Every now and then, it will happen on Saturday
Night Live. And it is -- there's nothing more satisfying. There was a sketch when I was
there called Debbie Downer. [ Applause ]
>>Tina Fey: Which I didn't write. I love it. I didn't write it or anything. But it was
really funny; right? And they all genuinely, truly broke and laughed
in it. And it's one of the most joyful things you could ever watch.
The thing for comedy people is, you just -- if it happens once in a while and it's real,
it's okay. But you never want to be that person who's kind of, like, faking it a little bit.
And so you don't see it on shows like 30 Rock because there's no audience there, so I think
it would seem pretty self-indulgent if we left it in, just, like, us --
>>Eric Schmidt: Thank you. What I like about Tina is you see in the arc of her life so
far someone -- someone who really has started off with an exceptional talent, which she
won't admit, but used it and used it and was disciplined in the way she approached everything.
In her book, she talks about the confusion of where to go and what to do. But ultimately,
she found a path that has resulted now in the second week of number-one book in the
United States, which is pretty amazing for, I think, a first book.
[ Applause ] >>Eric Schmidt: And if you think about writer,
comedy writer, creator, producer, actress, now movie star, mother, and she's managed
to merge it all together and produce just an extraordinary outcome, I can only imagine
what your next decade will be. And I'm looking forward to watching it.
So thank you. And thank you so much for coming. >>Tina Fey: Thank you for having me.
>>Eric Schmidt: Thank you. [ Applause ]
(Standing ovation)