On January 11, Tina Fey joined Oprah on stage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Check out their honest conversation on aging, friendship, Saturday Night Live, Mean Girls, and more—and try not to laugh!
Read the full transcript:
OPRAH: Ho, ho, ho, ho, we’re ready. Okay. All righty, all righty, all righty. So, when I started this very idea, I can’t tell you what it means to me that so many brilliant influencers, trailblazers, people I really admire in the world said yes when we called to ask them to join the WW presents our vision tour for wellness. And, I mean, Tina Fey parked her parka and came all the way to the Twin Cities, y’all. Please welcome, Tina Fey.
(Tina Fey entrance.) (Applause.)
TINA: Hi, everybody.
OPRAH: She’s here. Oh, look at you.
TINA: What did I do?
OPRAH: Yeah, you left your parka in the back.
TINA: I left my parka in the back.
OPRAH: Was the cold a little shocking?
TINA: I mean, it was—I went out of the hotel this morning, and I went—(screaming)—
OPRAH: Hey, I did the same thing. I did the same thing. And I lived in Chicago all those years.
TINA: You lose your tolerance.
OPRAH: Yeah. The difference is, the difference is, too, when I was in Chicago, I literally went from garage to garage.
OPRAH: I worked 14-hour days. I went from one garage to the next. Anyway, we’re welcoming you here.
TINA: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.
OPRAH: So, Tina and I had some fun yesterday because we both love Minneapolis for the same reason. We both love ourselves some?
TINA: Mary Tyler Moore.
OPRAH: Mary. We do. We do. So we went to the—we had to go to the statue. With our—
TINA: I was checking the realness of her—
OPRAH: —with our berets.
OPRAH & TINA: (Singing.) “We’re gonna make it after all.” Love that. Love that. Why did she mean so much to you?
TINA: I mean, you know, I think only in hindsight do I appreciate what a new kind of show that was, you know?
TINA: It came on the air the year I was born. I was born in 1970 and so that scene, that representation of a woman working a show about her at work and her work friends and all that stuff, that was a given for me. And I think that definitely influenced me of what I thought grown-up life was. Right? We all wanted that apartment. I drove by the house—
OPRAH: That’s right, you did.
TINA: It’s so pretty, yeah, you can do that.
OPRAH: Is it still there?
TINA: Yes, the exterior of the house. It’s somebody’s house. You should probably knock on the door. I didn’t. (Laughter.) Yeah, and just everything about it, you know, just, like, having that—and so I definitely, obviously, from very young, saw myself in, like, that—I’m gonna live—I’m gonna work. I’m gonna live in the big city. Those were the things I dreamed about, in large part because of that show.
OPRAH: I wanted an apartment like that. I even had an “O” near my refrigerator, like she had an “M.”
TINA: Yes. Also her outfits were gorgeous. Her style was gorgeous.
OPRAH: I started wearing vests because Mary did.
OPRAH: Yeah, the whole thing. It’s really important to have role models like that. And then when I started in Chicago and people started writing and asking me for money all the time, I thought, now, who would I write to? Mary. (Laughter.)
TINA: Did you write her?
OPRAH: No, I did not. But I’m thinking, who—who do I feel that I feel close enough to on television that I would say—
OPRAH: —Mary, I’m having a problem. Could help me with my rent? But anyway.
OPRAH: Here’s the deal. I know that you have been a WW member, not just a WW member. You are a WW lifetime member.
TINA: I’m a lifetime member. (Applause.) Thank you. I—
OPRAH: Tell people what that means.
TINA: I joined in New York in—I had gone—I lived in Chicago and really enjoyed the food in Chicago. And the big coats.
TINA: And then I moved to New York and we all took our coats off and I went, what happened? What happened? I was thinking, like, it’s time to sort of focus on this before it gets out of hand.
OPRAH: So why did you choose it then?
TINA: I think I chose it then, I went with my friend Paula, my friend—I hope—I don’t think she’ll mind that I—this is my friend Paula Pell. This is hilarious. You know, we were both writers. You know Paula Pell. And we joined together. We were writers at SNL. And we went—we used to go to meetings, you know, when you talk about connection, it was old school days. We would go to the meetings over at the jewelry store on 86th and Broadway. And the points were in books. I still have the books. You’d look up, you know. So, again, my—a banana is 2 points forever, to me. I can’t—a banana can’t be zero points. I can’t. And I—we both succeeded on the program. And I lost, like, 30 pounds that—and it mostly stayed off. In many ways, it kind of changed my career a little bit. And I was, like, oh, okay [now] you can be on TV, which is terrible. But also, like, okay. I said, yes.
OPRAH: It worked out. It worked out.
OPRAH: And you went on to be—not only that. We were talking earlier. And those of you who are on it know, the best part about Weight Watchers is a community and there’s now an app.
OPRAH: Called Connect.
OPRAH: Where people are posting all the time. I was saying, it’s the only place you can go and post your picture of yourself at 487 pounds in a bikini and people say, “Way to go, girl.”
TINA: Yes. Yes.
OPRAH: Fantastic. We’re with you. Yeah.
TINA: I find going on—I actually do go on there sometimes. And people don’t know it’s me.
OPRAH: You go on there?
TINA: Yes. And you don’t know it’s me. I may have given your salad a thumbs up. You don’t know. But I find it really rewarding.
OPRAH: You are on Connect.
TINA: Yes, ma’am. Not by my name. But, yes. And your staff looked it up. And they’re, like, we saw you. You have three followers. And I was, like, yep. Perfect. Perfect. That’s exactly how I want it. But I don’t do Twitter and stuff like that because I feel like it can be so toxic. And so sometimes on a day when I’m feeling very stressed or, like, I feel the urge, I wish I could go on Twitter and, like, say something back to someone or whatever, I go on Connect and I spend, like, 15 minutes saying positive things to people. And you—I feel so, like, refilled and good as opposed to, like, leaving a mean thing on Twitter?
TINA: People get into some personal stuff on Connect.
OPRAH: They do.
TINA: Yes. I’ve seen people talking—you can put videos on there, now, too. One time I spent quite a while watching a lady, an older lady talking about her weight loss and also talking about, like, how her—she’s facing an illness. Her mother had—was telling her, like, you’re never gonna do it. And the community was rallying around her. Like it gets deep on Connect.
OPRAH: It gets deep.
OPRAH: It’s deep. But you don’t go deep. You’re just on there.
TINA: I’m just, like, you can put Cool Whip on bananas, guys. That kind of stuff. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: I also—I heard you posted a strawberry something.
TINA: Yes. It’s strawberries and bananas and I put frozen Cool Whip on it and a little chocolate syrup and I tell myself it’s a banana split. Sometimes.
OPRAH: Yeah. Yeah. Only 7 points. Tell me this. Does it—
OPRAH: Does it excite you, thrill you, please you, or reward you, or all of them, that there’s so many millions of young Liz Lemons out there in the world—
OPRAH: —who look up to all the strong women that you’ve created through your characters?
TINA: Oh, that’s very kind of you to say. Yes. I’m always thrilled to meet somebody who—who says that they, you know, were inspired to become a writer or an actor or something because they saw me and Amy on SNL or they saw 30 Rock. I think it’s great. A lot of times you—you can probably use—I can see them coming. Sometimes they’re coming at me and I’m, like, you look exactly like me at 22. And, yes, hello. Like it’s always, like a lady who looks—with the glasses—yeah, they look exactly. But, yeah, I think it’s great.
OPRAH: I think it’s great. And I have to say, I heard that you really like the poster that we shared the lineup for the tour.
TINA: I loved the poster for the tour. I would like this to be how we repopulate the world. We go to an island, these women and The Rock—(laughter)—and start society over. It’s a good thing.
OPRAH: So I hear you’re in a reboot stage now.
OPRAH: What does that mean?
TINA: Well, it was interesting because I was doing the workbook on my way here on the plane and I’m 49, I’ll be 50 next May.
OPRAH: How are you feeling about that?
TINA: Thank you. I feel okay. I feel fine. Yeah. I’m trying to keep—I’m trying to make myself say I’m 49 and not be, like, I’m 50. Because I’m not yet.
OPRAH: Yeah. But you know it’s only gonna get better.
TINA: I hope so. I think so.
OPRAH: No, no, no. It is.
OPRAH: It is.
OPRAH: And I will tell you, the only number that actually gave me pause was 60. But when I turned 50, my—my dear friend, Maya Angelou, was still alive. And Maya said to me, babe, the fifties are everything you’ve been meaning to be. It’s everything you thought you might do. This is it. It’s coming in. You’re not even there yet.
TINA: Yeah. Great. Okay. I agree. (Laughter.) But it was good. The book is asking you your intention. I feel like I am at an age where all the things I ever thought I wanted to do, I did them. I always wanted to work at Saturday Night Live. I wanted to have a TV show. I wanted to have children, you know. And so I—I feel like I’m kind of trying to be quiet and take things in. Read. Listen. (Inaudible.) I’m waiting for something inside me to tell me what the next thing is I want to do.
OPRAH: Yeah, wait for it, actually. I would say don’t tell it. Let it tell you.
TINA: That’s what I’m trying to do.
OPRAH: You’re doing okay.
OPRAH: So that’s what the reboot is for you?
TINA: That’s the reboot. That and, you know, my husband and I are both eating better. Like we’re doing—in fact, my husband—his back was bothering him and they told him to lose weight and in that very male way he said, okay, and lost 15 pounds like in a week.
OPRAH: That happens with guys. Yeah.
TINA: He does most of the cooking in our house. So, like, it’s good that he’s on a health kick. Now everyone’s eating well and stuff and exercising.
OPRAH: So are you conscious of it? Are you still tracking? Do you track every day?
TINA: When they said do you have an account? I was, like, someone’s going to be able to tell I’m not tracking.
OPRAH: That’s what I think sometimes, too. Yeah.
TINA: But I know it’s there for me. I go in and out. Like I know it’s there when I need it. You know, like when I need to track, it will be there. But, no, I’m not tracking right this second. And all my exercise I’m finding now like exercise used to be about, oh, I want to look cute. Now it’s like—about five or six years ago I took an exercise class at a gym and they were, like, okay, everyone should get down here. We’re gonna do this. Like, you need to be able to get up off the floor, ladies. And I was, like, that’s where it’s at. (Laughter.) I need to be able to get off the floor. (Laughter.) And I—now I do a thing called Turkish get-up? Do you know what those are?
TINA: It’s like a thing where you get up off the floor over and over again. In stages. And sometimes you hold the weights. This is 49. I was with my—I have two—I have a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old. And I don’t feel like an older mom. I had my 8-year-old when I was 41 when I delivered. But I feel I’m hanging in with her. But last night before I left we were, like, goofing around at the table and she was joking like she was gonna kick me like that? And I was joking with her and I, like, turned sideways and I was, like, come on and she kicked me. As soon as she did it I was, like, oh, wait a minute. She kicked me and knocked me fully on my butt. All right. Your mom’s—your mom’s 49. Come on. Come on. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: What is it you most—I mean, do you find it more challenging now to raise girls in this age?
TINA: Well, the internet is horrifying.
OPRAH: That’s what I mean. With the internet and social media. You’re not on it yourself.
TINA: I’m not doing any public stuff. I love using technology to connect with people I actually know. Like I have a group of SNL lady friends that we—like it’s like Oprah meditation, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer. We talk every day. We talk a hundred times a day.
OPRAH: They’re your Gayles.
TINA: They’re my Gayles.
TINA: Until I can lure Gayle away from you. (Laughter.) Which has long been the plan. So, yeah, but they’re—listen, they’re not gonna—and my kids, my older daughter has a phone. She’s on it. She’s talking to her friends. Yeah, how do you—you protect them from what’s so terrible out there?I think kids growing up—
OPRAH: Do you have rules about it?
TINA: Yeah, well, my little one does not have a phone. And—
OPRAH: What is the age you think you should have a phone?
TINA: Well, I think it depends on the kid.
TINA: I think my older kid was, like, 12, and that was okay. My younger one, I want to say, 38. (Laughter.) She’s trouble. She is trouble.
TINA: But I think kids—kids that young, they’re, like, we know. They get the whole thing of, like, it’s forever. It’s for everyone. It’s for—you know. Because that’s what-I think my generation struggles the most with. I sent that online and now anyone can see that and that’s forever. We don’t get that.
OPRAH: Not at all.
TINA: No. We’re, like—I think speaking extemporaneously is, like, the most dangerous thing a person can do in 2020 is, like, talk without a script. Because you’re gonna get in trouble. You’ll be in trouble with somebody. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: So let’s talk about all of this incredible—you know, one of the things that amazed me, one of the times I think I was going to interview you, you were in the middle of literally creating—you were gonna do, for the first time that night, the Sarah Palin routine—(applause)—and there was something going on with your daughter—
TINA: It was—yeah, it was—I spent what was probably the apex, probably the craziest day of a crazy time in my life when we made the show 30 Rock, we worked 60, 70 hours a week, and Oprah had very, very kindly agreed to be on the show. We were gonna shoot, film all day on Saturday—
TINA: —and also that—it had come to pass in the days before that, that that Saturday night I was gonna go play Sarah Palin the first time at—
OPRAH: For the first time.
TINA: For the first time. And—and then the next day was my daughter’s third birthday party. And I was, like, I’m gonna make the cake, you know, I—yeah. Everybody—here’s one thing, if you’re a young mom, I will tell you, they literally don’t remember all the things—the birthday parties, they—they don’t remember. Don’t start until they’re, like, 10.
OPRAH: I was gonna say, don’t even start it. Usually about 6 or 7 you start to remember.
OPRAH: But all that stuff you’re doing when they’re 2 or 3, you’re doing it for yourself.
TINA: Yeah, you’re doing it for yourself.
OPRAH: It doesn’t matter how good the cake is.
TINA: Yeah, it doesn’t matter if you made the cake. It’s fine.
OPRAH: You didn’t even seem to be nervous that first—that you were doing that that first night. Were you really nervous?
TINA: It—I—I think I weirdly was not. I was probably more nervous that you were there and we needed to get the—the—
OPRAH: The shot.
TINA: The view in the can. I did have a—I didn’t have a psychotic break. Like a little like Lady Gaga, but I did have an epidemic earlier in the morning when you were there where I started laughing uncontrollably and I had to shoot one little thing without you, and I started laughing uncontrollably at a very stupid joke where I was supposed to be asleep and the guy next to me on the plane and then I get woken up and in my sleep I say, no, grandma, no. And you never know why, I—anyway, and I started with giggles and they were like—I couldn’t stop. And they were, like, Oprah is coming in, like, an hour. You’ve got to pull it together. Okay. Okay. Yeah, we were in the jet room and I was looking at news tapes of Sarah Palin trying to sound like her and Oprah said to me, I’m concerned for you. Like this is—might be too much. (Laughter.) And I was (inaudible) like when Oprah Winfrey tells you it might be too much, sit down.
OPRAH: Sit down.
TINA: And I in hind—now that that time in my life is over where I can do everything, I can go and do the show and I can remember a feeling that now I know was just cortisol just spiking at all times. Like I—like a tight chest front and back and cortisol because that show was a—30 Rock was a lot of challenging people—
TINA: —challenging circumstances, and I think that it—there would be days where I’m, like, I feel it eating my heart.
OPRAH: The cortisol.
TINA: The cortisol is burning away my heart. And so I—I don’t feel that anymore. I have other shows now. I’m not in them. And I feel that that’s good.
OPRAH: You know what I love about you is that, first of all, did you—you didn’t know, particularly that first day, that the Sarah Palin gig, that that thing was gonna turn into a thing and a thing and a thing.
TINA: I didn’t. And all I knew is people thought I looked like her. I was, like, I don’t even work there anymore. And I don’t think people realized that. And I still say that it was my Prayer for Owen Meany moment. Everything in my life had been leading up to me being able to do that. And I—one thing I was thinking about that, and about balance in general, and the reason I wasn’t that scared was I think because other parts of my life were in balance, I felt, like, if it goes terribly, I’ll just go home. And my family’s there.
OPRAH: That’s right.
TINA: You know, I was able to have a perspective of, like—
OPRAH: I will say, that is the reason why Gayle and I, and if you were gonna steal her as a best friend, why she is the best friend. Because she always actually loved her life. And so never wanted any parts of mine. You can only have friends who are truly your friends who are not jealous of you who don’t want what you have, who only want what they have, and they’re happy for what you have.
TINA: And that’s why I have—I also would be remiss if I did not mention my best friend from home growing up best friend, Marlene Kimball, who is very much that. She’s a teacher in Pennsylvania, and she—we are—celebrate each other. And yet I never feel, like, yeah, that she says, well, I wish—well, this weekend she would have wanted. I probably should have brought her this weekend.
OPRAH: Probably should have brought your friend.
TINA: Yeah. Yeah.
OPRAH: So do you have lots of girlfriends? Because you have the Saturday Night Live group you talk to all the time.
TINA: Yeah, I have my Saturday Night Live friends who are now like old friends. That’s from over 20 years ago.
TINA: I have my—you know, my old, like, hometown summer theater friends. I have all my work friends. My friend who I used to work with flew in from L.A. Not because of me. But, yeah.
OPRAH: I wanted to ask—first of all, you are gonna be hosting the Golden Globes.
TINA: Yes. Amy and I are going to go back.
OPRAH: You’re going back next year?
TINA: Yes. So here’s when I’ll be tracking. Next December, I’ll be tracking those points.
OPRAH: (Laughter.) Back to tracking.
TINA: Back to tracking.
OPRAH: For the big event. Do you think, as a comedian, that there are some jokes, some things that shouldn’t be joked about? Is there anything off limits?
TINA: I—my honest answer, as a comedian, is sort of, no. There—if you’re a good enough comedian, and if it’s true, and you find the way to get at the truth of something, like, technically, no. But it’s also, like, you have to think of who you’re speaking to. And who—where I think we’ll get push back is people—because if you speak now, you’re speaking to everyone in the whole world. And so you get more push back. I’m, like, yeah, I didn’t—I can hear you, and I didn’t like that. So it’s harder to write jokes. But in theory, like when you say is there no topic? And in my mind, I’m, like, I don’t think there’s any topic that I wouldn’t want to hear what Chris Rock has to say about it. Like I would feel safe in his thoughtfulness and his skills. And I’d be, like, what’s your take on? Whatever. But I also think part of my reboot is as a person in comedy, we’re also, like—not all of us. Me and my peers are kind of, like, all right. Let’s take a minute. Let’s figure out how to make comedy without hurting anyone, because we don’t want to hurt anyone, you know. How to make things—make shows that are more inclusive and diverse.
OPRAH: Well, you were doing diversity and inclusion long before it became the code word that everybody now uses, it’s a popular word, because you had a theory about diversity and creating chemistry in a room based upon lots of different kinds of people. Correct?
TINA: Oh, yeah. I mean, I do think the more—the more—the more diverse the room, the better everything is. Because it’s just—yeah, it’s just—it’s just truly better. Because you don’t want to be a bunch of—you don’t want to be a bunch of Caucasian people trying to guess what’s okay, you know, for a Latino person. How about just have some Latino people in the room to come up with things together?
TINA: And it just—yeah, it’s, like, you wouldn’t—you wouldn’t make a soup with, like, one thing in it and expect it to be good soup.
OPRAH: No, you would not. So you’ve been doing that for a very long time. Applause to you for doing that.
TINA: Thank you.
OPRAH: So when you rebooted Mean Girls.
TINA: Yes. Now in Chicago.
OPRAH: Now in Chicago.
OPRAH: So when you rebooted Mean Girls, you had an idea behind it, but it just wasn’t about mean girls.
TINA: Yes. The Mean Girls story, it came from this sociology book called Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, which we probably talked about (inaudible.) And it’s about how to help girls navigate—they call it relational aggression. Now I feel like—
OPRAH: Is that what it’s called?
TINA: Relational aggression.
OPRAH: Mean girls are relational aggression.
TINA: Yeah, aggressors, yeah.
TINA: But now I feel like—partly because of the internet and the anonymity of the internet and our climate in our culture, it’s actually kind of metastasized this behavior where I’m just gonna throw a punch over here on someone’s Instagram account or tweet something at someone and walk away, like, wasn’t that amazing? Wasn’t it—wasn’t it so bad-ass how I said that terrible thing to that person who doesn’t know who I am? And in the core of the Mean Girlsmessage of the show is this simple notion of, like, saying—calling someone else ugly does not make you better looking. Calling someone else stupid does not make you any smarter. And just trying to encourage people to walk away from that behavior. And so that felt why—was probably why it felt okay to me to, like, oh, yeah, I’ll revisit this property or whatever because I feel like it’s still a valid thing to be talking about.
OPRAH: I love when you wrote in your book, Bossypants, a great book.
TINA: Thank you.
OPRAH: You wrote, “If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is”?
TINA: Who cares? Who cares? Who cares? You’re still gonna die. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: And you say you reached a point where you loved everything about yourself. And you actually were talking about your thin lips that make you look like your nephew.
TINA: I look just like my nephew. I did that, like, changing—(inaudible) yep, my nephew. I think it is very much a blessing that I—I think it’s good to not be pretty as a teenager or a—you know what I mean?
TINA: Because I think if you’re a very attractive young person, the world treats you differently and expects different things of you, and you may not develop other aspects of yourself. And then you will eventually, unless you’re Christie Brinkley, you will eventually lose that beauty. (Laughter.) And then you don’t know who the rest of yourself is, you know.
OPRAH: Yeah, but Christie Brinkley is just—she’s more Christie Brinkley now than ever.
TINA: Yeah. She looks beautiful. OPRAH: Yes, she is. She is. She is. But it never was an issue for you?
TINA: I mean, I feel like I—what, being too beautiful? No. It’s never been an issue. (Laughter.) Never been a problem. But you know I think we’ve talked about this. I think it’s interesting I’ve moved through my life in a couple different body shapes. And it—it’s interesting to go from having been kind of, like, the Chicago style comfy comedy person and then I lost weight when I was, like, 27, 28, and people who I had definitely met before introduced themselves to me and treated me differently. And I felt like I was mature enough to be, like, okay, thank you. Don’t hit on me.
OPRAH: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
TINA: You saw me before.
OPRAH: Because people treat you differently.
TINA: They treat beautiful people differently. We do. We can’t help it.
OPRAH: And I think we all do, do we not?
OPRAH: Yeah. Yeah.
TINA: It’s why I punch my daughters in the face every morning. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: And I love—I loved what you just said is true. I think I remember reading this in Bossypants. You—the reason you’re so secure with yourself is because you’ve moved through life in a few different bodies.
TINA: Yeah. You know, it’s so true, yeah, it’s—I think we say about this—you should try being—try being a little heavy once. Try being really, really skinny once. You can’t stay there. You know, you’re losing weight and it becomes a game.
TINA: Of, like, how much weight can I lose? And you don’t want to reside there. You want to live your life.
OPRAH: You want to live your life.
TINA: Yeah. Now I just want to—my goal now is I want to—I see, like, old ladies in Manhattan, like, bustling down the street. And that’s, like—my goal is, like, I want to be walking around town, probably yelling at people—(laughter)—when I’m 85.
OPRAH: When you’re 85.
TINA: Yeah. I want to be moving. That’s it. Somebody moving.
OPRAH: You seem to be so—so literally normal, calm, and balanced. What’s the lesson it’s taken you the longest to learn?
TINA: The lesson it’s taken me the longest to learn? Hmm. That’s a good one. I think I’m at that sage where I’m trying to learn that I don’t have to be so obedient. I’m a very obedient person. A very obedient child growing up. I’m a pleaser. I want to hear that I got an “A,” you know? And I feel like you get to the age that—where you get past that and now I don’t feel the need to please others as much.
OPRAH: As much.
TINA: As much.
OPRAH: Have you completely lost it? Do you say—still say yes a lot of times when you mean no?
TINA: No. I think I don’t. I think I don’t say yes when I mean no. Yeah. I think I’m cured. I’m cured. It was the vision (inaudible.) I don’t think I do, yeah.
OPRAH: So since you’re in that state of reboot—
OPRAH: —are you comfortable being in that place where you’re just waiting for the next to show up?
TINA: Yes. I’m comfortable. I keep saying around the stuff, like, well, you know I’m retired. And then my husband’s, like, you know you’re not retired. Just let me say it. Yeah, I’m comfortable. I’m trying to read more. I’m trying to be—I’m, you know, present and enjoying my kids more than—you know, my second kid has no understanding of how hard my older daughter had it when you’re shooting and you’re—like I would say goodbye to her at 5:00am in the morning and come home at 9:00pm, at night. That was terrible.
OPRAH: Your heart.
TINA: And, you know, now my little one if I go for 10 minutes, she’s, like, where are you going? She has no idea how bad it can be. The other thing I’m trying to learn is to—as we all are—to be more present and put the devices away and to be with my family in a way and not be caught up in the idea of what it should be when we’re together. When you work a lot, working moms can tell you, like you spend a fair amount of time at work and I’m gonna go on Pinterest and look at crafts I’m gonna make when I get home someday.
TINA: Folders and folders of pins craft. And I have this thing where it’s, like, I’m gonna take my 8-year-old to this part of Central Park, this special guarding and we’re gonna go and we’re gonna take drawing supplies and we’re gonna have a day and I took her and she was, like. (Indicating.) It just—it just went to hell, like I just—and we ended up, like, in a fight with each other. It’s, like—and I was, like, maybe let’s just be together and not try to plan it and not try to—you know.
OPRAH: Are you glad that you’re not? Or would you want to be on Saturday Night Live during this volatile political time?
TINA: I’m glad to not be. I think it’s a tricky time to write about politics. It’s tricky, tricky, tricky. Because you are still obligated to make it funny, you know? You can’t just be mad.
TINA: It has to be funny, you know?
OPRAH: Yeah. But who would you most want to play now?
TINA: Who would I want to play now?
OPRAH: As a character.
TINA: Oh, I’m thinking through them all. They’re so beautiful. (Laughter.) I can’t—I don’t—I don’t think anybody. I mean—what’s that? You got one?—Amy Klobuchar? Rachel Dratch plays Amy Klobuchar and does an amazing job and looks just like her. Nancy Pelosi.
OPRAH: Nancy Pelosi.
TINA: I could play Nancy Pelosi. Marianne Williamson. You know, in improv, there’s a whole thing when you’re doing improv shows, which is where I came from, which are these scenes that everyone makes up together on stage. And there’s a rule in improv is when do you enter a scene? Two people are doing a scene and when are you supposed to enter?
TINA: And they ask in improv, when do you enter? Oh, when I have a good idea? Or when I think of something funny? And the answer is, no. The answer is, you enter the scene when you are needed. That’s when you enter.
TINA: So I will not enter unless I am needed.
OPRAH: But if you felt you were needed and you got the call.
TINA: Oh, sure, yeah.
OPRAH: You would do it?
OPRAH: What is exciting you the most right now?
TINA: What is exciting me the most? I mean, being here with you?
OPRAH: Thank you. (Applause.)
TINA: What is exciting me the most? I don’t know. I’m dead inside, Oprah. I’m dead. (Laughter.) What is exciting me the most? I like my house. I like being inside my house. (Laughter.)
OPRAH: So, you, I know, also did the workbook. Right?
OPRAH: And what did you—did you learn anything about yourself?
TINA: Yes. Well, this kind of ties to what I just said. The emotion and learning—learning
was one of the things I circled that I wanted to work on because I feel like I—I feel like I lack curiosity. Like I should be more curious about things outside my realm.
OPRAH: Are you one of those people who has literally learned from your life mistakes?
TINA: I hope so. Yes.
OPRAH: So it doesn’t show up wearing a different pair of pants? Or skirt? So that it doesn’t show up wearing a different pair of pants or skirt?
TINA: Oh, yeah, I think so. I think I learn from my mistakes, yeah. But even just in terms of, like—I don’t know, taking in new—doing new things. Trying new things. I think I’m a person who needs to be pulled because I was obsessed with comedy. It’s what I always wanted to do. I dove into that. Now I feel like I know about that. And so I need to find what the next thing’s gonna be.
OPRAH: Who makes you laugh?
TINA: Oh, my gosh. Who makes me laugh? Maya Rudolph. Amy Poehler. Keenan Thompson. David Sedaris. A lot of people, thank God.
OPRAH: The thing with you and Amy Poehler seems like it’s so natural. Do you have to work at that being so natural?
TINA: We have known each other since 1992—’93. And we’ve been working together. And the thing I love about our friendship, it is—it is a work-based friendship. Like we—that’s the time—the only time—almost the only time we see each other is when we work on something together. Which is why we’re, like, okay, we’ll do the Globes again. We were on our first improv team together. We toured for the Second City together. We did Weekend Update together. And so that was the best—my love language is working with people. I work with my husband, I—you know. And so going into doing something like the Globes and sitting there with a packet of jokes and going through it with her, it’s so natural and so easy because it’s 25, 30 years in practice.
OPRAH: Yeah. And that vibe just happens so naturally. Yeah. So when you did your workbook—
OPRAH: —what was your 2020 vision for yourself?
TINA: Well, I think I was a little confused of whether it was supposed to be a whole sentence. (Laughter.) Or, like, a how—a theory of what it should be or if it should be, like, eat more carrots. But I think it’s—(laughter)—I think it’s about listening and being present and, like, listening to try to hear what I’m supposed to do next.
OPRAH: And when—you know, one of the practices that is actually a part of my daily
spiritual practice is gratitude. And when you look back at your life, your career, just what you were saying earlier, all the things you wanted to do, you’re 49, you think you’ve done those, what are the things that really make your heart swell with gratitude?
TINA: With gratitude about all those things?
TINA: I mean, everything. The—the people I’ve gotten to meet. The people I’ve gotten to— to work with. Being able to not—that I didn’t run out of time to have children. You know, being able to do what I love and have financial success in it. I have gratitude for. I would—I know for sure I would be doing it anyway, even if I was still doing it in Chicago for free and working a day job.
OPRAH: You know what you’re supposed to do: You would do it for nothing.
TINA: Yes. I would do it for nothing. And I have in the beginning for a long time, yes.
OPRAH: Yeah. Yeah. For nothing.
TINA: For just—yeah.
OPRAH: And if you were still—well, we’re glad you’re not still doing it for nothing. Not still doing it—
TINA: Me, too. Me, too.
OPRAH: Yeah. And so what—do you have a spiritual practice?
TINA: Um, I was raised Greek Orthodox. But now I would—Whoo-hoo. Yeah.
OPRAH: I love people shouting for orthodox.
TINA: Yes. My religion.
TINA: Now I would refer to myself as, like, an Anne Lamott Christian. Like read some Anne Lamott. Try to be a good person. Try to impart ethics to my children. That’s about it.
OPRAH: And that’s it.
TINA: That’s about it.
OPRAH: What do you do—since, you know, we’re talking about wellness here.
TINA: Oh, yeah.
OPRAH: Yeah. What do you do to keep yourself in that wellness space that you are working to be more whole—
OPRAH: —and not perfect? Because you taught us that we don’t have to do that.
TINA: No, you can’t be. What do I do to be well? I—I eat well. I move around. I try to—I try to, sleep. Now that I’ve spent so many years sleep deprived. And that sleep deprived—sleep deprivation is no joke. Like there’s a reason they use it as—
OPRAH: I know. This entire audience, I’m amazed I’m still awake. (Laughter.) I’m amazed they’re still awake, because when I asked the question earlier today, that’s the number one question everybody can read. They’re not getting enough rest or sleep.
TINA: Yeah. And that’s so—it’s so hard to prioritize it for yourself. But you should try. I love going to sleep. It’s my favorite part of the day. (Laughter.) I drink some natural calm, get hazy, and then I go to sleep. I’m finding that I really need to be outside every day. Like I need to make time to go walk and be in nature or as close as I can get to nature.
OPRAH: In New York City.
TINA: In New York City. Goes to the park. I’m trying to read more. I’m trying to read more for a couple reasons, because I’m looking to reboot, but also I think I know my friends and I were all—we’re all very stressed by the news every day and the daily events and, like, fire, eventually and so many things like—
OPRAH: Do you take it in? Because I was talking to a friend the other night who’s, like—said, I’ve got to go watch the evening news. I never watch the evening news.
TINA: I—I—no. I try not to, yeah.
OPRAH: Before bed? Are you kidding?
TINA: A little—look, I watch the morning a little bit and then—
OPRAH: Do you watch Gayle?
TINA: Um, it—I look—I’m NBC forever. It’s tricky. It’s tricky.
OPRAH: Yeah. (Inaudible.)
TINA: So I watch NBC in the morning. I’m sorry. By the way, that was just a chess move to prevent Gayle from being my friend. That was relational aggression. (Applause.) I watch everything on Gayle’s Instagram. I learn on Instagram a lot about Gayle. But I also like to read stuff because I feel like it helps me remember that the world’s been around a long time and will continue to be around and so I read things that were written a while ago and have a connection to things that are more permanent than, like, the news cycle.
OPRAH: But you don’t take all that stuff in on a daily basis?
TINA: No, I try not to. I think my friends do. My friends need to be talked down every night. There’s a lot of, like, are you watching this? Nope.
OPRAH: Not a bit.
TINA: Nope. Walk away.
OPRAH: Don’t even take it in. I can’t even tell you what it meant to me that you said yes that you would come here and talk to all of our—
TINA: I told her I was—(applause)—I would say yes to anything in the world that you ever asked me to do. And by the way, like if you asked me what my, like, spiritual beliefs are? Like the closest I come is my love of you, since I was a child, coming home from high school—
TINA: —I would come home every day and make a Jiffy Pop and watch you every day and eat that whole Jiffy Pop and I feel like there are so many things I say all the time that I got from watching your show. I always say, always be the only person that can sign your checks? I always say, never go with someone to a second location.
TINA: Which actually, I used to say it so much and stuff like that in the room at 30 Rock that it became a famous joke on 30 Rock of—with Carrie Fisher’s character that Jack Burditt wrote,
like, never go with a hippie to a second location. Because I wouldn’t shut up about things I learned from The Oprah Show. I went to a book club show once when I was living in Chicago with me and was probably Rachel Dratch, like a bunch of us had read The Book of Ruth was the book.
OPRAH: Oh, wow.
TINA: And we went to that show like it was a mid-term. I don’t know what—we, like—we thought you were gonna give us a test. Like we—we took it so seriously.
OPRAH: Oh, my gosh.
TINA: So you, you were my church. You are my church and my light.
OPRAH: Oh, thank you for coming to the Twin Cities.
TINA: Thank you for having me.
OPRAH: Thank you for being here.
TINA: I love you.
OPRAH: Taking care of yourself. Thank you. Thank you, Tina Fey.
(Tina Fey exit.)
OPRAH: That way. That way. No. That way. Tina Fey.