This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for May 18, 2017: I cannot dance upon my Toes...

May 18, 2017: birthday: Tina Fey

It is the birthday of comedy writer and actress Tina Fey (books by this author), born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania (1970). Her mother, Jeanne, worked in a brokerage firm and her father, Donald, was a university grant proposal writer. She has one older brother, named Peter.

She was a high school honor student, a member of the drama club, and she performed in a summer theater group. She enrolled at the University of Virginia, where she studied playwriting and acting, and after graduation in 1992, she moved to Chicago, where she took night classes at the improv training center The Second City, while working at a YMCA during the day. In 1994, she began performing with The Second City, traveling around the country and doing eight shows a week for two years. Three years later, she was hired as a sketch writer for Saturday Night Live and she quickly rose to head writer.

A while later, producer Lorne Michaels approached Fey to appear on SNL’s weekend edition alongside comedian Jimmy Fallon. Her performance was well received. A longtime glasses-wearer, she had wanted to wear contacts on camera, but when someone commented on how great her glasses looked during a run through, she wore them instead. They became part of her signature look — and, as it would happen, enhanced her resemblance to the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. She played Palin in a series of sketches during the run-up to the 2008 election.

Fey also wrote, produced, and starred as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, a comedy she created in 2006, based on her experiences as head comedy writer at SNL. Her memoir Bossypants (2011) quickly went to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

In response to people who claim that women are not funny, she said: “My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”