Story at a glance

  • Tina Fey did an interview with Variety about the changing landscape of comedy.
  • In the interview, Fey highlighted recent skits on “Saturday Night Live” that she said would not have aired while she was a writer.
  • Fey became the first female head writer for “SNL” in 1999.

Tina Fey opened up about inclusivity in comedy and writers rooms in a new interview with Variety.

Fey said having diversity in the writers rooms allows the development of previously untapped ideas, adding that some skits being crafted now would never have gotten air time when she was at “Saturday Night Live.” 

“SNL" has a history of being known as a “boys club,” with Jennifer Aniston recently saying during a SiriusXM interview that she didn’t want to join the show early in her career because of its reputation.


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Fey began working at “SNL” in 1997 before replacing Adam McKay to become the show’s first female head writer in 1999.

In her interview, Fey highlighted new cast member Bowen Yang’s April skit as the iceberg from the Titanic, written by co-head writer Anna Drezen, as an example of a joke that wouldn’t have gotten traction during her time at the show.

“Here’s an example of a piece I thought was hilarious, and I cannot imagine it having survived at 'SNL' when I first worked there,” Fey told Variety. “Bowen Yang playing the iceberg from 'Titanic' on Weekend Update. If they tried to get that piece on in 1997, it wouldn’t have. And nobody would have thought they were boxing them out, but the monolithic heteronormative room — to use some terms — wouldn’t have gotten it, wouldn’t have liked it, and I feel really confident that it wouldn’t have gotten on.”

During the interview, Fey also touched on other changes happening in comedy and backlash she has personally received from problematic jokes made in the past, such as the use of blackface on her show “30 Rock.” She said moving forward there is a greater sense of accountability.

“When we look at our jokes now, we’re looking for ‘Is this joke going to be perceived as homophobic? Or disrespectful to homeless people?’” Fey said. “Every joke does go through a vetting process, at least on our shows, now.”


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Published on May 07, 2021