10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey

Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

George RR Martin Confirms Popular Fan Theory About Game of Thrones's White Walkers

HBO
HBO

When your books involve a fireproof teenage princess, an undying royal love child, and a centuries-old witch who can glamour herself as an attractive young woman, an army of unkillable ice zombies is hardly the weirdest thing you've ever come up with.

But George RR Martincreator of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, which became the basis for HBO's Game of Thrones—didn't get so caught up in his world-building that he forgot to include some symbolism. Particularly when it came to the aforementioned ice zombies, the White Walkers.

In an interview with The New York Times to promote his new book Fire and Blood, Martin confirmed what many fans had already believed about these creatures.

"It’s kind of ironic," Martin said. "Because I started writing Game of Thrones all the way back in 1991, long before anybody was talking about climate change." Indeed, the seemingly unstoppable elemental forces that descend from the north to bring nature's wrath on the people of Westeros are analogues for equally dangerous climate change.

"The people in ​Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth," Martin said. "And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming,’ which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there too, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles."

"We’re fighting over issues, important issues, mind you—foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice," Martin continued. "All of these things are important. But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community.

"And it really has the potential to destroy our world," Martin continued. "And we’re ignoring that while we worry about the next election and issues that people are concerned about, like jobs. Jobs are a very important issue, of course. All of these things are important issues. But none of them are important if, like, we’re dead and our cities are under the ocean," he concluded.

John Krasinski's 8 Best Episodes of The Office

NBCUniversal Media, LLC
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

John Krasinski can jump around in action movies all he wants, but everyone will always see him as lovable goofball Jim Halpert from The Office first, and everything else second. After nine seasons of playing the guy who gave the camera furtive looks, Krasinski made sure that Jim Halpert would be an enduring part of his legacy.

While we probably wouldn't appreciate Jim as much if he was our actual co-worker, he left enough genuinely perfect moments of comedy and drama to be one of the most memorable characters on the show. Here are the best of those moments.

1. "PILOT"

First impressions are everything, and Jim introduced himself to audiences in the best way possible. After American audiences quickly realized that Michael was an incompetent man-child and Dwight was a sycophantic sociopath, they needed someone like Jim to knock them down a peg with a stapler in Jell-O. The first prank and the hint of his future relationship with Pam was all it took to make him the endearing hero of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch.

2. "PRODUCT RECALL"

"Product Recall" showed just about all sides of Jim inside of 22 minutes. One of the show's funniest cold opens (where he perfectly impersonated Dwight for the low, low price of $11) showed off Krasinski's comedic side, while his car ride with Andy demonstrated his sarcastic, fed-up attitude with his co-workers ("Lord, beer me strength."), and his subsequent sympathy after Andy realized he has been dating a high school girl gives the audience a view of his caring nature.

3. "WEIGHT LOSS"

Jim has always been quick-witted, but usually puts some thought into his more ambitious endeavors. That's why it was such a surprise when he randomly proposed to Pam at a gas station in the rain while she was studying in New York. The way he handled her dreams in general was admirable, and this was simply a logical culmination of his support for her.

4. "TRAVELING SALESMAN"

While the episode primarily focused on the Andy-Angela-Dwight love triangle, "Traveling Salesmen" also proved Jim's effectiveness as both an employee and a teammate. His unorthodox sales call with Dwight made them both look like marketing geniuses, and the fact that they could work together at all showed that their perpetual rivalry was built on a bedrock of genuine mutual respect.

5. "OFFICE OLYMPICS"

For the first season or so of The Office, Jim didn't seem to have much going for him at Dunder Mifflin; he was your run-of-the-mill, bored office drone. But then he was given an opportunity to make his workspace a little brighter and he took it, formally organizing and running the Office Olympics. It was clear how much true joy he was getting from the project and how pleased he was to be able to help Michael with it in the end.

6. "CUSTOMER SURVEY"

"Customer Survey" lives and dies on the improvised, three-minute bit where Michael tries to coach Dwight through a fake sales call with ​Jim, who is casually manipulating them as "Bill Buttlicker." Not only did this display Jim's capability to understand others on a fundamental level, but it was one of the series' single funniest moments.

7. "NIAGARA"

Jim and Pam's wedding was one of the moments the show had been building toward from the very beginning. Their wedding, with the forced music number, secret elopement on the Maid of the Mist, and the adorable ruining of the clothes was all saccharine. But the moment Jim messed up and revealed Pam's pregnancy was a welcome reminder that he wasn't quite a perfect spouse.

8. "A.A.R.M."

What can be said. The video that Jim had made for Pam in the series's penultimate episode was as heartbreaking and touching as television can get, and him finally giving the Christmas card to her, a plot line that writers had been sitting on for the better part of seven seasons, was a moment of much-needed closure for the show.

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