Tina Fey. Mother. Sloppy dresser. Comic genius. With 30 Rock hitting its hundredth episode and an unfortunately titled (but uproarious) new book—Bossypants—in stores, she spoke to GQ about parenthood, breast pumps, and the Tyranny of the Blonde
I thought we could start with parenting. I’m curious for your advice for new dads. Is there shit we should be doing that we don’t know about?
Four years. A loooong road.
I remember, the first time I saw my wife’s breast pump, I thought, This is an alarming, medieval device.
Yeah, the thing’s upsetting. I would try to pump milk while watching Entourage on demand. And that was the worst possible way to do it. Like, I had the pump on, and I’d hear Turtle on TV: Yo, E, you ever fuck a girl when she has her period? I just sat there thinking: Oooh, this is not how this is meant to be.
Louis C.K. has a classic line that it’s completely okay to call your kid an asshole. What do you think?
I think that any person being an asshole deserves it. Especially toddlers—they’re total d-bags. You gotta let them know.
You write about telling your daughter that people have “yellow” hair to fight the global blonde conspiracy. My son’s blond. Is he superior, or do you have to be a girl for that magic to happen?
Oh, it still carries some weight. I think yeah. I wouldn’t even bother with him—he’ll be fine. What color are his eyes?
Don’t even teach him to read.
When the 30 Rock pilot aired, Tom Shales wrote that it needed “a better premise and funnier dialogue.” Since you’re shooting the one hundredth episode today, would you like to tell him to suck it on the record?
I’m pretty sure he did go back and suck it. But my memory is that the main problem with it was that I was such a terrible actor! Which I do not dispute—but now contend doesn’t matter.
But Liz is in almost every scene!
She is the spine, yes. But I always feel like she’s like Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld. You couldn’t have done Seinfeld and hired some random guy to be Seinfeld. What he was bringing was very specific to him.
What was the darkest moment on the road to one hundred episodes? It was dicey for a while there.
You know, I just watched an episode that, in my mind, is a pivotal one: “Black Tie,” from season one, where Paul Reubens played an inbred Austrian prince.
**Of course, I remember it. **
It was very, very weird.
Jenna ends up with him at the end, right?
And then he dies. It was the last episode that we shot before we were supposed to get our pickup. When we were on-set, we were joking that the episode was called “Black Tie” but should be called “Good-bye America!” We weren’t trying to be weird, you know. We wanted people to like the show—we just didn’t know how to do it. We were just like, “This? Do you like this? Do you like inbred Austrians? No? You don’t?” That was the one where we were like, “Maybe we should start looking for what props we’re going to keep from this endeavor.”
I’m curious. Do you think Liz is ugly? Because there are all these jokes about her being unattractive, and I just don’t see it.
It’s never that she’s ugly—I mean, she is sometimes slovenly. But for me, it’s always been kind of the opposite of what people have said about her. It’s about how other men see her, and has nothing to do with how she really is. When Jack is like, “Ugh, you’re a mess,” it’s because of what his brain wants a woman to be. It has nothing to do with the physical symmetry of her size or anything. So no, she’s not ugly. She’s kind of sloppy. But all the clothes that Liz Lemon wears are much nicer than what I would wear on a writing-hiatus week.
Lady blogs like Jezebel exploded after the episode with the Liz-hires-a-feminist-comic thing. It sure seemed like you were commenting on the outrage when Olivia Munn—hot lady, not necessarily hot comic—was hired on The Daily Show.
I was actually really pleased that Jezebel got that it was about the whole Olivia thing, because the treatment of Olivia was weird on that site. She just kept getting reamed! And it was this weird mix. They would go after her, and then the next thing would be like, “Defending the Rights of Sex Workers.” And I was just like, “Well, why can’t we just say Olivia’s a sex worker? Leave her alone!”
You’ve claimed publicly that the key to comedy is a staffing mix of Harvard people and Chicago improv people. What’s the alchemy there?
It’s Spock and Kirk. One’s visceral and the other’s cerebral. They’re asocial, but they mix together nicely.