Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fascinating Women: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

by Tamara Hogan

When I learned that this month's blog theme was fascinating women, I immediately called dibs on Elizabeth Stamatina (Tina) Fey. 

Fey, who honed her writing and acting chops at Second City Chicago, came to cultural prominence as a writer and actor at "Saturday Night Live," where she ultimately became the show's first female head writer and helmed the "Weekend Update" desk with Jimmy Fallon and then Amy Poehler. She adapted the screenplay for, and starred in, the movie "Mean Girls," and teamed again with Poehler for "Baby Mama." She's the writer, star and executive producer of the NBC comedy "30 Rock." And, as if being one of the strongest sketch comedy, television and movie writers around wasn't achievement enough, last month she hit #1 on the New York Times best-seller list with her hilarious and poignant memoir, "Bossypants."

Writer, actor, wife, mother, producer, Emmy winner, reluctant covergirl, and the youngest-ever recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor, Fey arguably impacted the 2008 American presidential race with her dead-on impression of then-vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

As a woman of a similar age, I find Fey's personal and professional achievements astounding, and her impact on the culture undeniable. Rather than drooling over what a national treasure I think this woman is - when does she sleep? - I'll let Tina's writing do the talking:

Wickedly funny cultural commentary at Saturday Night Live:

"Mom Jeans" - writer Fey adds a new phrase to the lexicon
"Brownie Husband" - with or without nuts!
"Annuale" - "...you may develop a leathery tail."

More clever wordplay: (not necessarily safe for work):
"Colonel Angus Comes Home" - "We haven't seen Colonel Angus around these parts for years."

Fey and Amy Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, talking about sexism in politics - "I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine."

Fey (hilariously) accepting the Mark Twain Prize for Humor (8:56).

An excerpt from "Bossypants" called "A Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter." (Alice, do NOT mouth off to your mother in front of Hollister. You have been warned.)

Tracy Jordan might be the "30 Rock" character on a perpetual quest to achieve the EGOT (joining the short list of entertainers who've won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony), but in my opinion, it's Tina Fey who might actually complete the cycle some day.

Give her time. She's only 41.

Who are your favorite funny people, and why? 

21 comments:

  1. I'm not much of a television watcher, so my favorite funny people are writers. Janet Evanovich is my number one go-to author for giggles, but we have some very, very funny ladies writing for Sourcebooks. Carolyn Brown makes me laugh out loud with her down-home turns of phrase; Judi Fennell's worlds are endlessly clever and funny; Ashlyn Chase and Linda Wisdom write great humorous paranormals, and there are so many more - I could go on and on! Humor and romance go together so well - a few laughs lighten up the angsty emotional stuff.

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  2. I do like Tina Fey. I don't know many other comics and, sad to say, don't stay up late enough to watch SNL (so thanks for the links).

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  3. Hi Joanne - Evanovich definitely brings the goods as far as humor is concerned. Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books usually make me howl with laughter. (Was it Natural Born Charmer" that opened with a scene in which the heroine is hitchhiking wearing 3/4 of a beaver costume? OMG.) And last night I was reading Rob Sheffield's "Love Is a Mix Tape", which made me both laugh and cry. Wow, can the man write.

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  4. Hi Shana - I have to admit that I rarely make it through a full episode of SNL anymore without falling asleep. Thank God for Hulu!

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  5. So with all those credits, we now know why Oprah decided to retire from her show...Tina Fey was coming on strong!
    I've loved comedians since...well, if I finished that sentence I'd be dating myself back to the Ark, that one made out of gopher wood. But I do love them and I really do like Ron White (no surprise there, huh)

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  6. Carolyn, Ron White's a hoot, isn't he? And his farmer tan looks so authentic! I'm forever teasing my Mark that he comes by his red neck honestly. ;-)

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  7. Tamara, thanks for the scoop on Tina. I don't watch TV much anymore, so much of this was new to me. And I'm so NOT cool, because I don't understand half of her wordplay. LOL

    Favorite comedic actresses--Goldie Hawn, Sandra Bullock, all the witches in Hocus Pocus, Joan Cusack, and Carol Burnett.

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  8. Tamara, SEP's "Natural Born Charmer" is just about my favorite romance novel ever! You're right - that first scene is priceless!

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  9. Paula Poundstone gets my vote. Her humor never seems like an act. She's just naturally funny!

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  10. Oh Tracey, isn't Carol Burnett just fabulous? I'll date myself here, but I remember watching it with my mother back when it was on in prime time. I used to love it when she, Harvey Korman and Tim Conaway would crack each other up. They were obviously having such a goodtime together.

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  11. Joanne, I like that SEP had the guts to deviate from type a little bit in "Natural Born Charmer" and create a metrosexual pro football player rather than a good ol' boy. Something about the rhythm and pace of Blue's comment to Dean that he was wearing the gayest boots she'd ever seen makes me chuckle even now. Time for a re-read, I think!

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  12. Cheryl, I enjoy Paula a lot, too. It's such a treat to hear her when she's on NPR's "Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me."

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  13. I couldn't agree more. Tina Fey is my hero.

    Ash

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  14. I don't even own a TV, which makes me some kind of throwback, but while traveling in the UK, I caught a few snippets of Billy Connolly, a Scottish comedian. He's foul, funny, incisive and yet never brutal. Even the English have to admit he's funny when he's making fun of them.

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  15. Tina Fey rules. She's smart, funny and real. Great post!

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  16. Terry, as a Minnesota girl, I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Mary Tyler Moore. In downtown Minneapolis, there's a statue of 'Mary Richards' tossing her hat in the air.

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  17. Ashlyn, I have to admit that Tina and her Tina Fey glasses hit the scene, I barely ever wear my contacts.

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  18. Grace, I love TV with a breathless passion - National Geographic, Discovery, the Science channel - and Bravo, of course. Pull up a chair and I'll tell you all about "Project Runway." ;-)

    The UK is an absolute treasure trove of comedy! Craig Ferguson's standup is fabulous (and that voice...**sigh**). I enjoy Eddie Izzard, Dame Edna, and of course the great Monty Python troupe. I find myself bizarrely attracted to Russell Brand, in a naughty, do-it-in-the-alley sorta way.

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  19. Yep, Sara - Tina is my hero(ine). Though I want to tell her it's okay to take a nap.

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  20. I wasn't familiar with TF, so thank you for the wonderful intro!

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