Put Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in a room together and the one-liners are going to fly. The BFFs, who also happen to star together in movies like “Baby Mama” and the new “Sisters,” are incapable of taking themselves too seriously.
Everything is ripe for ridicule, from social media to hair bands. At the moment, the women are particularly tickled about “Sisters” being seen as counterprogramming to the new “Star Wars.”
In the run-up to the movies’ opening, Fey and Poehler released a short film called “Sisters: The Farce Awakens,” which pokes fun at the hysteria surrounding the release of the latest chapter of the sci-fi franchise.
“We have a hashtag, that’s part of our social media campaign, and its #YouCanSeeThemBoth,” says Fey. “You can see them both, you guys. It’s a holiday weekend time.”
For the record, Fey is very big into social media. “I do YouPorn,” cracks the actress, 45.
“I’m doing LinkedOut,” says Poehler, 44.
“That’s where it just sends anonymous emails to people that you knew in high school saying, ‘Don’t contact me,’ “ Fey says with a laugh.
Yes, they finish each other’s sentences. So in tune are this duo that, even though they look nothing alike, it’s easy to buy them as siblings in “Sisters.”
Written by longtime “Saturday Night Live” writer Paula Pell and directed by “Pitch Perfect’s” Jason Moore, the comedy revolves around two sisters who decide to throw a wild party after discovering that their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) have sold their childhood home.
Fey, who produced the movie, stars as Kate, a former wild child dissatisfied with her current life while Poehler plays the uptight and recently divorced Maura, who finally decides, during the house party, to let her freak flag fly.
In “Baby Mama,” Fey played the more responsible member of the duo who loses it over the course of the movie. This time around, the actress opted to let Poehler have the showier role of the good-girl-gone-freaky.
“I think initially when Paula started writing the script, she may have even pictured us in the opposite roles,” says Fey. “But I put my producer hat on … and I thought, ‘When you have a part for someone where they’re supposed to be tightly wound in the beginning and then go crazy, you need to cast the person who’s better at going crazy.’
“And I just knew that Amy would play the back half of that (setup) better.”
As for Poehler, she says didn’t really care which sister she played. “I had never technically read the script, so …”
“She has a woman who reads her scripts,” teases Fey, a New Yorker who’s married to composer Jeff Richmond, with whom she has two daughters, ages 10 and 4.
One of the reasons that Fey and Poehler get along so well is that they have similar backgrounds. A native of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Fey says both she and the Massachusetts-reared Poehler were good girls growing up.
“We were both Maura,” says Fey.
“Yes, we were, so it was easier to understand (how to decorate) Maura’s room than it was for us to understand how to decorate Kate’s,” says Poehler, who lives in Los Angeles with her two sons, ages 7 and 5. (Their father is Poehler’s ex, actor Will Arnett.)
“I will say, though, growing up, I was into hair bands. So I had embarrassing — no, not embarrassing — posters of Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and Pat Benatar on my walls.”
Long before they shared a desk on “SNL’s” Weekend Update or a podium at the Golden Globes, Fey and Poehler were collaborators in a Chicago improv outfit.
“We were the only two women on our first improv team, and I think that’s where it all started to work, actually,” says Fey.
Adds Poehler, “I think we learned pretty quickly that we liked the same things. We liked speaking the same way. So much of comedy in the beginning is finding your tribe because no one’s very experienced and no one feels funny.
“But you end up searching out people who like the same things as you and who also get you. So I think that happened pretty quickly.”
Neither Poehler nor Fey have sisters in real life but they consider each other family.
“We feel like chosen sisters,” says Poehler. “I was saying today that our relationship is as old as Lourdes Ciccone, and as talented. … I do think as a woman you get lucky if you can choose your sisters and the people who knew you when.
“But you’re not related to them. So it’s easier, isn’t it?”
It’s no accident that Poehler and Fey are only two of a handful of “SNL” veterans in the movie. Also popping up are Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Rachel Dratch and Bobby Moynihan, among others.
“Well, there’s a bit of a shared vocabulary, and I would even go farther than just ‘SNL’ and say that, in the improv community, there is a sense of (comedy) being like a well-run emergency room,” says Poehler.
“If you’ve ever seen a well-run emergency room, you know there’s not a lot of freaking out because you just don’t have the time, and you don’t take up a lot of time talking about how something’s not going to work or that you can’t do it.
“You just do the best you can in the moment, and you wish for the best. … So I think we have a tonal thing that we’re all used to, and also, we like working and feeding off of each other.”
There’s a level of trust among the fellow “SNL”-ers, notes Fey.
“There’s not a lot of ball hogs on our team so that’s really fun,” she says. “We all take great pleasure in other people’s jokes, and there wasn’t a lot of feeling like we were competing. I think that always makes for a better experience and oftentimes a funnier film.”
Fey says she and Poehler had a blast making “Baby Mama” seven years ago but an even better time making “Sisters.”
“I do think we were much more relaxed making this movie,” says Fey who, in the interim years created and starred in “30 Rock” while Poehler anchored “Parks and Recreation.”
“I just think we all have a lot more experience, which enables you to care less, in a way, and be, like, ‘It’s OK, it’ll work out.’ “
As far as Poehler is concerned, “Sisters” wound up being more enjoyable because the movie hit home in ways “Baby Mama” didn’t.
“It’s interesting that the film is about dealing with people who knew you when, and exploring the good and bad of that. (The movie asks), ‘Can you change that story about yourself? Are you stuck always being this one kind of person?’
“And we were all working with people that we’ve known for a really long time, and so it was really easy for us to play old friends, obviously, because we all are.
“But it was also cool for us to watch (each other grow), and hopefully in the future (we’ll keep growing), until the robots kill us.”
”Yep,” deadpans Fey, “the robots are coming!”