Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took the stage Saturday night at YouTube Theater in Los Angeles for an “In Conversation” event on the final weekend of shows to close out the inaugural (and epic) 11-day Netflix is a Joke: The Festival.
After an amusing introduction that credited them as the stars of Baby Mama, Sisters and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick (not true) followed by a brief dance break, Fey kicked off the show with a couple of disclaimers.
“We are not stand-up comedians,” she said. “So, remember tonight is a conversation. we are in conversation. This is not the Golden Globes. If you came here to see fancy outfits and hear hot takes on The Power of the Dogask the person next to you, I guess.”
The person seated next to The Hollywood Reporter spent the bulk of the preshow not talking about Jane Campion’s Western but instead recapping the events leading up to Saturday, specifically the night Dave Chappelle was assaulted at the Hollywood Bowl when an audience member hit the stage. (The suspect, Isaiah Lee, 23, was arrested and charged with four misdemeanors.) As a result, security was a buzzy topic and even Fey made note of it from the stage.
“We are not stand-ups so if you came here tonight to tackle a stand-up, find someone from Netflix and get your money back,” she continued. “We saw what happened to Chappelle, and I don’t care what anyone says, I didn’t like it. We were a little worried about that, but I feel like the vibe in here feels good. I don’t feel like anybody is going to try that shit.”
But just in case they did, Fey called in some favors. “I felt like we should have someone here as backup, so I did text Jamie Foxx because he and I were voices in soul together,” she said of the actor, who was onstage with Chappelle during the incident. “I asked him to see if he would come. He did not answer the text. In his defense, I don’t think he gave me his real number. So, we called in another buddy of ours to do security tonight.”
The joke was a setup to introduce the muscle who did make it to the main stage: 30 Rock alum Jack McBrayer. “It really is an honor to be here,” he said. “But security is important so I do need y’all to know that if you act a fool, I will fuck your shit up. If you come for them, I will come for your nut sack.”
Poehler quipped, “I feel safer.” With that out of the way, McBrayer exited the stage and left Fey and Poehler to chat it up for the next 75 minutes. But first, they revealed the format. Seated opposite one another in gray chairs amid a simple setup featuring greenery and a floor lamp, they took turns pulling pieces of paper from a variety of bowls scattered about.
“We are middle-aged white women, we love bowls,” joked Poehler before Fey explained that each bowl contained a category of prompts including questions from Twitter, “Would you rather?”, genuine conversation starters, random acts, famous names and “ impressions that I bet you can do.”
The first slip they picked a dishy query: “Who is the most famous person to ever hit on you?” Poehler joked that she fielded interest from John McCain. “You’re sort of his type,” Fey said. “An Arizona blonde.”
Then Fey claimed that one night during her SNL days, she felt the vibe from an unlikely suitor. “Kevin Spacey tried to hit on me,” she said as she pondered the affection (from the disgraced actor who came out as gay in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct), “Who is this for? Who is this performance for?”
The two then talked about the objects of their affections, saying that they didn’t share the same taste in men at all, except for one — ’70s-era John Travolta. “He can get it,” Poehler said. Moments later, a gaggle of audience members shouted out names of other famous men. Harry Styles? Not so much, Fey said. “He looks like a baby deer.” They did settle on another, Henry Cavill. “Superman is our type,” Poehler said, later adding, “This whole show is us just talking about guys we find attractive.”
Another name that made its way to the stage was Jon Hamm, who had an arc on 30 Rock as the (idiot) love interest of Fey’s Liz Lemon. After they both said the actor is like a brother to them, Fey admitted that she had to kiss him in an upcoming film. (Though she didn’t name the title, they star in the John Slattery-directed Maggie Moore(s).)
Asked to say what they love about one another, Poehler came quick with a compliment. “Tina is really, really good at quiet talking in the moment. Women, you’ll know what I’m talking about,” she explained. “There are some people when stuff is going down, you go up to them and say, ‘Something’s going down,’ and they say, ‘Onde? Who? What? Why?’ This bitch knows how to talk [quietly] next to you. She she’s like a spy. She she’s so good. I trust you, Tina. That’s what I love about you.”
Then came a question asking them to identify their most embarrassing professional moment. Both came courtesy of SNL. Poehler, however, said hers was equal parts thrilling because of the live aspect of it. During a Queen Latifah-hosted episode, Poehler and Maya Rudolph were playing backup singers alongside the host. Seconds before the skit went live, the stage manager informed them that the music cut out. “You float out of your body and you’re in the rafters,” she explained of adjusting in the moment.
Fey’s most embarrassing moment also came during a backup moment on SNL but had less to do with music and more to do with ensembles. When Andy Roddick was hosting, she was supposed to dance while wearing a dress and a short white trench coat. “I didn’t want to dance behind him in a trench coat,” she admitted.
There was more SNL talk from the stage as they recapped what it was like to tag team on “Weekend Update,” specifically how thrilling it was to package breaking news from Saturday morning into the broadcast later that night. “We wrote our jokes the morning of,” Poehler said. “Sometimes you could tell. What was fun about doing a live show and being in front of a live audience is that you could fold in whatever happened that day. I remember there being a lot of last-minute ‘Update’ bits during that time, like, ‘Who wants to play the shoe bomber?’”
If something major did happen early in the day, they could rush to put their spin on it and beat notable late night hosts to the punchline. “The Daily Show was such a force of nature at that time, you would hope that there was a big news story on Saturday morning so you would first crack at it. otherwise, The Tonight Show, [David Letterman] and all these other shows had their shot at it.”
Speaking of shots, Fey drew a lot of laughs after drawing James Marsden’s name out of a bowl and sharing that she once tried to set him up with Poehler.
“You were newly single, and I knew he was newly single,” Fey said of the actor who also played her love interest on 30 Rock. “We were at the [Emmys or Golden Globes] and we were going to an afterparty. I got it in my head that I was going to set you up. I was walking out, and I was like, ‘Jimmy you should come to our afterparty.’ He was like, ‘Oh, maybe I will,’ and I was like, ‘No, you should definitely come to our afterparty.’ I was drunk. Then he was like, ‘I’m going to take off.’ I realized in my drunkenness that he thinks I was trying to fuck him, and I’m a married lady — I wasn’t.”
Nor was she trying to write herself a love scene with another 30 Rock co-star Matt Damon. He played the pilot Carol Burnett on the show, and Fey explained why they never had a kissing scene. “I remember my college roommate wrote to me and said, ‘I’m so mad at you, you should’ve written in that you got to kiss him.’ I was like, do you understand how fucked up that would be?” she replied about the NBC series she created, wrote and toplined as TGS showrunner Liz Lemon. “That’s what men do and now, they’re in trouble for it. It would be creepy.”
Poehler disagreed. “It would’ve been really cool. That’s the perks. Them’s the perks.”
Fey kept the jokes flowing, then explaining the appeal of Damon and his longtime best friend, Ben Affleck. “They are J.Crew sweaters. What I mean is, when you see them together, they’re really cute. When you go to J.Crew and there’s an orange, a Kelly green and a peacock blue and you’re like, ‘This is so cute.’ And then you get one home, you’re like, now I got a fucking orange sweater.”
They delivered more industry dish, too. When Fey drew Steve Carell’s name out of the bowl, she offered up a story about the press junket for their film date night.
“We did interview after interview after interview where every person in North America, Germany, France, England and every person would say to us, ‘So, it was so exciting for you to get to be with Marky Mark [Wahlberg]. I had to intend to be super attracted to Marky Mark. And they kept saying to Steve, ‘Must’ve been very embarrassing for you to be the man next to Mark Wahlberg — so handsome,’” recalled Fey (who closed the show with a monologue from 9 to 5, while Poehler handled St. Elmo’s Fire). “Steve was such a good sport about it, but by the fifth country his ego was broken. It kind of broke him. The next thing he did was foxcatcherI think that’s why.”
Fey, who fielded the majority of the questions while Poehler handled all the impressions and the improv bits, also offered up the types of roles she’s being offered as of late. Specifically, this one: “Very professionally successful [woman] who cannot have a child or an orgasm. That’s what I project. [Recently,] I got offered this movie that is sort of my nightmare — it’s a good movie too. It’s going to get made and Kathryn Hahn is going to be great. It’s about a lady who can’t have orgasms, and then in the movie, she has a million of them. I’m not doing either side of that.”
After being offered the role, Fey called Poehler and asked, “Why do I always get offered these parts of women who can’t have babies or can’t have orgasms?” Poehler replied: “I said after 50, you are either horny or you are a witch. One or the other, babe.” Or maybe both? Fey called an audible: “Can we agree right now with whatever Netflix people are in the room that we are going to make Horny Witch?”