On Monday, Oct. 1, 2007, The Quad had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with the creator and star of the hit Emmy-award winning television series “30 Rock,” Tina Fey. Fey, who became famous as the co-anchor on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment, spoke to The Quad about her career, both past and present, as well as details behind the premise of her show.Fey told The Quad, “…My life was always based around work more than […] dating and single lady stuff. That’s not really my milieu as it were.”
“So I wanted to write a workplace comedy. And then once I sort of figured out that I would like to try to write a thing that was sort of me and Tracy and Alec, even though I never really thought we’d get Alec, once that sort of triangle came about, […] then this idea came about.”
Fey also shared the way certain characters from “30 Rock” came into existence. When asked if her character “Liz” was based on herself, Fey replied, “.my first name is Elizabeth, but I’ve always gone by Tina even in, you know, from elementary school on. But yeah, […] Liz is absolutely a version of me. She’s this – some things where she’s different than me, but she’s mostly just pretty close to me.”
Fey also responded to questions regarding the other performers involved on the show. SNL alum Tracy Morgan, who plays a caricature of himself on the show named “Tracy Jordan,” co-stars with Fey.
“I feel like I know Tracy’s strengths as a performer when we write for him. And he knows the kind of thing that we’re looking for from him. So it’s nice. It makes things easier.”
Regarding her producer Lorne Michaels, who has been a producer at Saturday Night Live since 1976, Fey had the following to say: “.Lorne and I have a great relationship and he’s just a great producer and person to be able to go to. He’s just been doing this for so long and really knows how TV works and he’s great.”
Another fine facet to “30 Rock” is the presence of veteran actor Alec Baldwin, who plays Liz’s boss “Jack Donaghy.” Fey explained, “He is sort of a hybrid of a lot of people. There are definitely times where we take elements of Lorne Michaels personality and put in there and he knows that it’s – but it’s probably a small portion of what the Jack Donagee character is.”
Fey elaborated, “…The whole corporate world and conservatism is nothing like Lorne and that sort of comes mostly from wanting to see Alec play so much the opposite of what he is because he’s so liberal that it’s just we try to go to the opposite of him.”
In addition to it’s star line-up, “30 Rock” is also known to feature some very famous guest stars from time to time. Jerry Seinfeld appeared on last Thursday’s season premiere, playing himself.
Fey told The Quad, “.[Jerry] was great and he definitely came in and had ideas about ways to adjust jokes as we were hoping he would because […] when someone like a comedian like that has a really distinctive voice, you can try to write to their voice, but until you get them there with you and they phrase things the way they want to phrase it, that’s when you really get it right.
“He was really generous and, you know, for the most part he was perfectly cool with everything we had written with him. And then sometimes he had ideas that were great; that were better than what we gave him.”
Fey mentioned that other upcoming guest stars on the show include David Schwimmer, Steve Buscemi, Will Arnett and Carrie Fisher.
Fey also spoke of her life in college. Fans might be surprised to learn that she wasn’t the typical college student. “In college I was an extremely clean living drama department nerd. I did not drink or do any drugs and I was just a nerd. And I hung around the drama department all the time and hit on gay guys.”
On being the first female head writer on SNL, Fey said, “.There really had only been four or five head writers total at that time because people do it for a number of years. And so, it didn’t really feel like – it wasn’t like being the first woman president or something where there’s a long history before there were any women in the job.”
Fey went on to talk about what it was like to make the jump from a live show to a half-hour sitcom. When asked what some of the difficulties were, Fey replied, “In writing the biggest challenge is telling a story over the course of a half hour because you just don’t have to do that in a comedy sketch. It’s just not what that’s about.”
“And then the other thing is just learning a different sort of performance level because if you’re performing live, then you can kind of feel the crowd and you can feel whether you’re pushing or whether you’re not. Whether you don’t have enough energy and you just kind of have to find a little internal monitor for that when there’s no audience.”
Catch “30 Rock” on Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
Chris Pierdomenico is a fourth-year student at West Chester University majoring in Secondary English Education with minors in Psychology and Film Criticism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.