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Tina Fey & Amy Poehler: First Ladies of Comedy

Aired January 19, 2014 - 19:00   ET




AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: I said we were best friends, because we are.


TURNER: Who came everybody's buddies and Hollywood's hottest hosts.

FEY: I don't think she has any plans to do porn, Amy.

POEHLER: None of us have plans to do porn.


TURNER: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

POEHLER: Things can get a little crazy. And not everything has to be explained and justified

TURNER: Two smart women.

FEY: So am I, and so is this one.

POEHLER: Yes. Deal with it.

TURNER: Funny on their own.

POEHLER: Yes, I farted. Jealous?

TURNER: Together, hilarious.

FEY: You know, Hillary and I don't agree on everything.

POEHLER: Anything.

TURNER: From humble sketch comedy beginnings

FEY: Look, Jimmy, it's teen punk pop sensation Avril Lavigne.

TURNER: They became Hollywood powerhouses.

Tonight, a tandem poised again for golden global domination. POEHLER: This is better.

FEY: Oh, that's better. This is better. Wait.

POEHLER: This is good. We got it now.

TURNER: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, first ladies of comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a great night for celebrating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wearing a corset, not that much air going to my head.

EWAN MCGREGOR, ACTOR: It's always quite a good laugh in there. It's good fun.

TURNER: It's the party of the year, the Golden Globes, presented every year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But in 2013, something different, two new hosts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

TURNER: Could they pull it off, headlining this show packed with A-listers boozing it up?

POEHLER: Well, the show has really taken a turn. Time to start drinking.

TURNER: The two best friends quickly get everybody laughing.

POEHLER: Only at the Golden Globes do the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television.


TURNER: Smart, charismatic, and, most importantly, hilarious. That hosting performance is hailed by critics, comedians and pretty much everyone who sees it.

BILL CARTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": They killed. They knocked it out of the park.

CHRIS TUCKER, ACTOR: They were great. They were right on the money. And it was spontaneous. They were in the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were incredible. So, I think they're going to outdo themselves once again. I mean, they're really these really incredibly bold ladies, and they're the queens of comedy right now.

CAROL BURNETT, ACTRESS: I thought they were wonderful. They got everything right. They were having fun. It was like a roast.

POEHLER: Getting sloppy in here, everybody. Look how drunk Glenn Close is. MARY MCNAMARA, TELEVISION CRITIC, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": They project a niceness, so that when they do go into those kind of more zingier places, people don't feel like, oh, my God, they're so mean.

TURNER: Mean is one word pinned on Ricky Gervais, who hosted three years running before Tina and Amy.

RICKY GERVAIS, COMEDIAN: Our first presenter is beautiful, talented, and Jewish, apparently. Mel Gibson told me that. He's obsessed.


TURNER: The comedian drew as many gasps as laughs for jokes many considered too harsh.

GERVAIS: Two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay, so the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists then.

TURNER: Where so many other award show hosts failed or offended...

GERVAIS: I feel bad about that joke.

TURNER: ... Tina and Amy triumphed.

FEY: The beautiful Anne Hathaway is here tonight.


FEY: Anne Hathaway, you gave a stunning performance in "Les Miserables." I haven't seen someone so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were on the stage with James Franco at the Oscars.


TURNER: The 2013 Golden Globes broadcast sees its biggest audience in six years. And guess which buddies are re-upped for two more?

FEY: We will be hosting again

POEHLER: Together. Because we are best friends.

FEY: Because we are in love with each other.

POEHLER: What was that?

FEY: I said the thing that you said.

(on camera): You're going to get to do the Golden Globes again with your friend Tina.


TURNER: Thoughts? Excited? Ready? POEHLER: Very excited. Not ready at all. Haven't even prepared at all, but very excited, yes. We had such a good, fun time last year. So we're just hoping to do that, just facilitate the evening, keep it moving. Do as little as we have to.

TURNER: Is it easy with her?

POEHLER: Oh, always. We have known each other for 20 years now. It's fun to do it with your friend, yes.

FEY: I really thought it was going to be more comfortable than this.

POEHLER: Yes, this is better.

FEY: Oh, that's better. This is better. Wait.

POEHLER: This is good. We got it now. Hey.

TURNER (voice-over): Funny women, now proven hosts.

POEHLER: It was a great year for film, women in film, Kathryn Bigelow nominated tonight.


POEHLER: I haven't really been following the controversy over "Zero Dark Thirty," but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.


BURNETT: They come across as terrific, good buddies. I will definitely be watching especially because they're hosting, yes, definitely.

FEY: Just to get you excited, here's a preview of our big opening number.

POEHLER: Five, six, seven, eight.

TURNER: When we come back...

FEY: This time, I'm going to do more.

TURNER: ... we will show you how Tina and Amy meet on the improv stage.

POEHLER: Are you guys excited for our show this evening?

TURNER: And rise through the "SNL" ranks.

FEY: People say that Hillary is a bitch. And let me say something about that. Yes, she is. So am I. And so is this one.

POEHLER: Yes. Deal with it. FEY: You know what? Bitches get something done. Bitch is the new black.




TURNER (voice-over): Long before all the honors...

POEHLER: I'm very excited to be hosting this evening.

TURNER: ... the accolades...

FEY: No, we don't win anymore, but we still get to come.

TURNER: ... Tina and Amy take their first bows on the national stage on "Saturday Night Live."

FEY: Ah, look, Jimmy, it's teen punk pop sensation Avril Lavigne.

TURNER: That's their introduction to America. But they're introduced to each other a decade earlier.

Tina, fresh from the University of Virginia, and Amy, armed with a degree in improv training from Boston College, head west to Chicago. And it's there they meet in 1993 at the comedy training ground ImprovOlympic.

POEHLER: My name is Amy, and my number is 506-1GA.

FEY: Well, have I heard of them? No.

CHARNA HALPERN, FOUNDER, IMPROVOLYMPIC: I have a knack for seeing that special thing. And I just see it when I saw Tina. And I just see it when I saw Amy.

This is outside of Tina's wedding.

TURNER: Charna Halpern founded I.O., where thousands of hopefuls come through the doors here.

HALPERN: Some are bolder. Some are braver. I think that's where Tina and Amy stood out for me. I put them together on a team called Inside Vladimir and they were surrounded by six men. And, you know, those men knew who ran the show. And it was those girls.

I had created a show calls "The Living Room," which I shot a pilot for with them.

POEHLER: Yes, we have kids.


TURNER: Tina and Amy, now fast friends, continue their training at a place synonymous with comedy greatness, Chicago's Second City.

ANDREW ALEXANDER, CEO, SECOND CITY: Pretty extraordinary, when you start looking at these pictures and the faces.

Andrew Alexander is CEO of Second City.

ALEXANDER: Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Gilda Radner, John Candy.


TURNER (on camera): Well, we don't have to get very far to see the face.


TURNER: Ms. Tina Fey.


TURNER: What kind of classes did they take?

ALEXANDER: They took all improv classes. In those early stages, they were learning their craft.

POEHLER: Oh, my God, that was a secluded area.

FEY: Darlene, it was a Popeyes Chicken.


FEY: I'm not in the current show quite that much, because it was my first show. So, this time, I'm going to do more.


TURNER (voice-over): This is rare footage from a Second City documentary featuring Tina.

FEY: When you haven't improvised with a group of people yet, you want to prove yourself. You're spending your time sort of focusing like on, I can keep up, and I can -- you know, or my place here and find my niche in this ensemble.

TURNER: Fey makes Second City's prestigious main company. Poehler gets into the touring company, then decides her future lies elsewhere.

ALEXANDER: Amy kind of left us I think before she ever made one of what we call our main stages. She decided to move on.

TURNER: To New York in 1996, where she co-founds rival improv comedy group Upright Citizens Brigade.

POEHLER: Are you guys excited for our show this evening?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CARTER: She needed to come to New York. She needed to come to find a new niche. She was polishing her skills at that stage.

TURNER: In '97, Tina gets her own summons to New York, and it's a life-changer.

MCNAMARA: She just came to interview with Lorne Michaels to be a writer on "SNL," which is like hysterically brave. Here she is, this little improv kid. And then you go to see Lorne Michaels, who is like God.

(on camera): What does Lorne Michaels see in her? Was there something?

CARTER: Incredible mind, an incredible comedy mind. She's just a brilliant comedy writer, just brilliant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you looking for the perfect gift for mom this Mother's Day? Introducing Mom Jeans, exclusively at J.C. Penney.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cut generously to fit a mom's body.

MCNAMARA: She wrote the Mom Jeans sketch. She wrote the Racial Tension Headaches case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Excedrin Racial Tension Headaches. Excedrin R.T. works fast, taking me from, oh, no you didn't, to I wish a mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) would.


TURNER: At "Saturday Night Live," what was she up against when she was hired as a writer there?

CARTER: Well, it has been a boys club for a lot of its history. But I think, in the Tina era, it was -- it became strongly feminized. Talent breaks through.

TURNER (voice-over): Her talent is so big, she's named the first female head writer in "SNL" history.


TURNER: In 2000, another crucial moment in Tina's ascent. She moves from behind the scenes to the anchor desk on "Weekend Update."

FEY: In a new study, scientists are reporting that drinking beer can be good for the liver.


FEY: I'm sorry. Did I say scientists? I meant Irish people.


TURNER (on camera): Lorne has said, he was taking a risk with Tina putting her in that role.

CARTER: Tina was unknown. She really wasn't a big star to do it. So I think he put them together to see how it would work, and they had really fantastic chemistry.

TURNER (voice-over): Years later, on his own late-night show...

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": I think we have a clip of actually the thing so she can see it.

CARTER: ... Fallon reveals footage of their original screen test.

FEY: I'm a grizzled ex-cop with a heart of gold.

FALLON: And I'm a 7-year-old black orphan who is always getting into mischief.

FEY: And when we get together...

FEY AND FALLON: We bring you the news.

TURNER: While Tina thrives on "SNL," Amy is still in the showbiz shadows. But Tina's whispers in the boss' ear, hey, what about my buddy?

CARTER: I know this really great performer. You got to look at her.

And I think she was influential there.

TURNER: Come audition time in 2001, Amy works her magic, as she would joke to Larry King.

POEHLER: And then I just met Lorne in an undisclosed location and I handed him a manila envelope filled with $50,000, and here I am.

TURNER (on camera): How good of a sketch comedienne is she?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's one of the best I have ever seen. There was a period of time when, if you watched "Saturday Night Live," you would say, oh, my God, it's the Amy Poehler show.

CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, ACTOR: I promise you darling, there's no ghosts around here. So you're safe.

POEHLER: That's good, because I hate ghosts. They're spooky.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm sorry, Amber, are you farting?

POEHLER: Yes, I farted. Jealous? TURNER (voice-over): Her range expands in 2004 to include co- anchoring "Weekend Update" alongside you know who.

POEHLER: And Amy Poehler.

FEY: Here are tonight's top stories.

POEHLER: Their update pairing last two years before Tina moves on.

FEY: Hi. I'm Tina Fey and I'm hosting "Saturday Night Live" this week.

TURNER: In 2008, they reteam for one night.

FEY: And maybe what bothers me the most is that people say that Hillary is a bitch. And let me say something about that. Yes, she is. So am I. And so is this one.

POEHLER: Yes. Deal with it.

FEY: You know what?

POEHLER: Reminding us all how awesome they are together.

FEY: Bitch is the new black.

POEHLER: Tina Fey, everyone!


TURNER: When we return: Tina and Amy part ways on "SNL"...

FEY: We haven't worked together in a couple years.

TURNER: ... but regroup on the big screen.

POEHLER: What is this?

FEY: Water.

POEHLER: It's horrible.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.


TURNER (voice-over): Hollywood takes notice of Tina and Amy's "SNL" teamwork and, like legions of late-night alums before them, the duo leap from television to the big screen.

FEY: You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores.

TURNER: In 2004, Tina writes and stars in the teen comedy called "Mean Girls," where Amy plays a morally ambiguous mom.

POEHLER: There are no rules in this house. I'm not like a regular mom. I'm a cool mom.

TURNER: "Mean Girls" is a box office smash, earning more than $129 million worldwide. And more movies follow.

FEY: I want to put my baby inside you.

TURNER: Next, they pair up in "Baby Mama."

POEHLER: Like, Kate, we're partners, like Tom and Jerry.

FEY: Tom and Jerry hate each other.

POEHLER: They love each other. What show are you watching?

FEY: They're a cat and a mouse.

POEHLER: They had so much fun.

TURNER: Then, Tina lands as a leading lady alongside Steve Carell in "Date Night."

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: Hi, we were -- hello, up here. We were in here earlier having dinner with our friend Sam I Am.



FEY: She's calling us weird. I don't like that.

TURNER: In the midst of their newly launched movie careers, their television presence grows. Amy continues to showcase her skills on "SNL."

POEHLER: On Wednesday, the 73rd annual Rockefeller Christmas Tree was LT., as was I.


FEY: Hi. I'm Liz Lemon.

TURNER: Tina translates her real-life experience on the show into the fictional sitcom "30 Rock."

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: You have the boldness of a much younger woman. TURNER: It takes a while for viewers to come to know "30 Rock," yet despite its bumpy start, with Tina as the creator, writer and star of the show, NBC is willing to bet on it with a second season.

MCNAMARA: "30 Rock"'s numbers were terrible. It wasn't even getting really good critical attention. But, if you remember, "Seinfeld" didn't either.

This was a good example of letting a show grow. Don't yank it. It was to NBC's credit that they went, OK, we trust you, so we're going to just give you enough time to find your way.

TURNER: Under Tina's leadership, "30 Rock" finds its way to 103 Emmy nominations and 16 wins over its seven seasons. "30 Rock" becomes the jewel of Tina's comedy crown.

FEY: I got to kind of have the final say on almost everything. But I had all of these incredibly talented people doing the work with me and for me. I'm spoiled for forever.

TURNER: While enjoying the spoils of her creative control at "30 Rock," in 2008, Tina is asked back to "SNL," where she makes the most of her uncanny resemblance to a certain political candidate.

FEY: You know, Hillary and I don't agree on everything.

POEHLER: Anything.


POEHLER: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

FEY: And I can see Russia from my house.


TURNER: Tina and Amy's satirical portrayal of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton becomes an overnight sensation and a national obsession watched by millions.

MCNAMARA: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, that was -- it was huge. It was huge on like seven or eight different levels. Tina got up there and basically, through the performance, said everything that everybody was thinking.

Then you have Amy. To do Hillary Clinton is actually really hard.

POEHLER: I love your outfit.

FEY: Why, thank you.

POEHLER: But I do want the earrings back.


MCNAMARA: It also reminded us that comedy can be influential in politics.

FEY: Well, in that case, I'm just going to have to get back to you.

TURNER: Their take on the 2008 elections cements the strength of their partnership and solidifies their Hollywood stock. Now it's Amy's turn to depart "SNL" for her own sitcom, portraying absurd public official Leslie Knope in the fictional Pawnee, Indiana, on "Parks and Recreation."

POEHLER: Goddesses, let's go over our schedule for this afternoon. We have hiking, and then capture the flag, and then a puppet show about the Bill of Rights set to "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus.

TURNER: Like "30 Rock," "Parks and Rec" initially struggles to find its audience. But over six seasons so far, the all-star ensemble earns critical acclaim and a loyal legion of fans.

MCNAMARA: It's just such a humane show. It's like it's funny, but it's never mean. It's a show that is unlike anything that's on television.

TURNER (on camera): What makes the magic, though? What makes it work?

POEHLER: I think we have great writers and I think we have the best cast in TV, comedy or drama. I have said this before.


POEHLER: You want to cut funding for the Pawnee Palms puppet putt-putt?

TURNER (voice-over): As for how the cast feels about Amy?


TURNER (on camera): Is she a monster?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's the word, right?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Amy is like an incredible comedy machine.

TURNER: What about that Amy Poehler?



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Way over her. She seems to get all the lines every week, Leslie, Leslie, Leslie. TURNER: How did it become all about...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: It's like she's the center of the show. It's really weird.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, she's the best. She's the sweetest. And, technically, she's the leader of our show. You would never know it. She's just so kind.

TURNER (voice-over): Admired by their comedy peers and respected by their comedy icons.

BURNETT: They're very witty and they bring brains. They are very smart. And they know how to deliver a line.

POEHLER: Meryl Streep is not here tonight. She has the flu. And I hear she's amazing in it.


BURNETT: Their legacy will be, they made -- they made you laugh.

TURNER: Two wildly accomplished writers, producers and actresses.

For Tina, her career has become more than she ever imagined.

FEY: I feel like I have exceeded my wildest dreams.

TURNER (on camera): When you think about what you're doing now and your life now, I mean, do you pinch yourself and say, wow?

POEHLER: I really always wanted my life to be filled with doing good work with my friends. So I feel like I'm getting to do that now, which is awesome. It's been a very slow and steady race for me. I like the long game, or the long con is maybe better to say.

TURNER: So you're the tortoise, not the hare?

POEHLER: Yes, maybe. Maybe I am the tortoise, and will eventually win the race. I don't know.

TURNER (voice-over): Amy and Tina, indisputably the reigning first ladies of comedy.

For more of Tina and Amy's golden moments and to get the latest on the red carpet stars and standouts, check us out on the entertainment page on