Amy Poehler honors Tina Fey at the 13th Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor on November 9, 2010.
Good evening! Mark Twain once said “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand” but it was Shania Twain who said “Man, I feel like a woman”. Tonight we celebrate a dynamite woman, a first-class lady, an upstanding broad and a straight-up Dame. Tina, I am so honored to be able to attend your comedy Bat Mitzvah tonight. So far the food has been excellent and your Evita theme is really working.
Tina and I met while we were taking improv classes in Chicago at improv Olympic and Second City. It was 1993 and our dreams were as big and unshaped as our eyebrows. In the early 90s in Chicago only two things were clear: we wanted to write and perform comedy and we knew we would look better in our 40s than we did in our 20s.
Having known Tina for close to 17 years, I am in no way surprised at her well-deserved success. In fact, to prove it, I brought along a to do list from 1996 that Tina wrote on a napkin in a diner and it’s shocking how many things have actually come true.
Number one: win Mark Twain prize. Check. Create, write and star in an outstanding comedy program and win tons of Emmys. Check. Make my parents proud, find a wonderful husband and have a beautiful kid. Check. Look very similar to a future VP candidate and play her so well that I influence the upcoming 2008 elections.
Well, as we all know, Tina went on to write at SNL and I was lucky enough to join her there. She was an amazing head writer. For many years, she carried that show on her back and she made every sketch better. I have very fond memories of opening her door at 4 o’clock in the morning and begging her to fix my sketch. And like clockwork, she would gently remind me that we didn’t have a show that week and asked me why I had a key to her apartment.
I was thrilled to join Tina at the Weekend Update desk and to be one half of the first-ever two lady update team. She left SNL and the update desk to create and star in 30 Rock. And while Mark Twain’s comedy looked at the life of a small-town America to explore the growth of a cultural landscape, Tina Fey’s comedy looks at the life of Tina Fey as she makes out with Jon Hamm and Matt Damon. Well played, my friend. Well played. I love you, sister. Congratulations!