“A double act, also known as a comedy duo, is a comic pairing in which humour is derived from the uneven relationship between two partners, usually of the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession but drastically different in terms of personality or behaviour.”
The world of comedy would not be the same without these comedy duos taken over our screens and we want to focus on some of our favourite pairs out there. We will look at old and new, discover how they started out and what is it that makes them so hilarious together? We have previously featured Nick Frost and Simon Pegg and Laurel and Hardy.
For this weeks double act we focussing on the women with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
This duo have set the bar high for friendship goals. Are you ever having a laugh with your best mate and think ‘We are hilarious, they could make a tv show on our lives’. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s relationship goes back 20 years where they were best friends before their huge rise to fame.
In 1993 Tina Fey and Amy Poehler met at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic where Charna Halpern, the theatre’s co-founder introduced them to each other. Amy stated: “Charna took a liking to me, and me to her. She told me I was just as good as the big boys. She believed in me. She said there was another new improviser in another one of her classes whom she thought I would really like. Her name was Tina and she was like me but with brown hair.”
Charna says: “They were just instantly brilliant … They were not the typical women who get steamrolled by men. [They] were no shrinking violets. They were bold and ballsy and fearless.”
Amy: “I remember Tina Fey wrote a play about Catherine the Great fucking a horse and I thought, ‘That lady is hot stuff, I wanna know her.'”
Tina Fey: “Yes, yes. I used to take playwriting classes, and I wrote a one-act play — I can’t remember the name of it, but it was really about the way women are perceived as leaders. In the play, Catherine the Great would say things like, ‘You know, John F. Kennedy had extramarital affairs and no one says anything. But I bang one horse and now I’m a horse banger for all eternity? That’s it? That’s what I am?’ I think Hillary Clinton’s got to be able to relate to that.”
Amy (from Yes Please): “She was sharp, shy, and hilarious. We took classes together and sat in the back. She would whisper funny and harsh things about Del [Close, the improv guru and co-founder of ImprovOlympic] to me. When we did scenes together, they weren’t particularly funny or interesting. There was absolutely nothing pointing to the fact that anyone on our team would be successful in any kind of comedy career.”
Amy: “Actually, we met in class at the ImprovOlympic Theater. You taught me my first real beauty lesson.”
Tina: “I was 22 or 23, and I had only recently learned that you can pluck your eyebrows or have a lady put hot wax on them and remove portions of them and shape them. So this was a big thing that happened to me, and I passed that information on to you.”
Amy: “Back then, I used to get my hair dyed at a place called Big Hair. It cost $15. They just used straight bleach, so my hair was the colour of white lined paper, and my eyebrows looked like they were done with a thick black marker.”
They went on to perform a two woman show called ‘Women of Colour’. The years after this involved them moving to and from New York and trying to get work together as much as possible. This included working in sketch groups, ASSSSCAT and in Upright Citizens Brigade, Amy’s sketch group. Eventually in 2001 Amy joined Tina on Saturday Night Live after years of her asking her to.
Tina: “I would say to her for years do you want to come be on SNL and she’ll be like no no, love UCB. And then she was like well, maybe now. I can’t believe it worked out.” “I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, ‘My friend is here! My friend is here!’ Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.”
In 2002 they appeared in the film Martin & Orloff.
In April 2004 Amy appears in Mean Girls alongside Tina who also wrote the film.
Through out the years their names have soared as two of the most influential women in comedy. In 2008 they appeared together on the cover of Vanity Fair.
They appeared together on Oprah:
In 2008 Tina guests on SNL with her Sarah Palin impression. You just have to read the extracts in both their books about this experience to learn how close these two really are. Tina (Bossypants): “The whole experience was surprisingly serene…Maybe it was because I was safe at the side of my sweet friend Amy.”
Amy (from Yes Please): “The anticipation for Tina playing Palin was so fun to witness, and she explains it well in her book Fifty Shades of Grey. She totally took on what was expected of her and it was awesome to stand next to her as she killed.”
They have presented together at the Emmys:
In 2011 Tina releases her book Bossy pants in which she dedicates a whole chapter to Amy called “I Don’t Care If You Like It (One in a series of love letters to Amy Poehler.”
They have now gone on to host multiple award shows together:
In 2014 Amy released her book Yes Please which includes a chapter about Tina Fey called Partner in Crime. Here is a snippet from the chapter:
“People think of us as a ‘comedy team’ and I am not quick to correct them. Why wouldn’t I want to connect myself to the fiercest and most talented voice in the comedy world?”
“I am mistaken for Tina all the time. I recently renewed my license at the DMV and the African American woman asked me to do my Sarah Palin. She was confused and perhaps racist, but it only made me happy. I’m happy that people call me Tina because she is my friend and she happens to be crushing it.” She also wrote her this poem below.
We aren’t going to list all the things they have worked on together or said about each other or else we’d be writing a book!
However one of their latest collaborations was the brilliant film Sisters.
We will leave you with this extract from Glamour magazine where they tell each other what they think is their greatest accomplishments:
Amy: “I think one of your greatest accomplishments was transitioning from the captain you were at SNL to creating a show [30 Rock]. That is so hard—extricating yourself from a place you were so comfortable and successful, then doing something else so well. That, and the fact that you invented the word flerm.”
Tina: “I would say that one of your greatest accomplishments, Amy Poehler, is that you have so successfully used your art and comedy as a source of positivity in the world, by creating Smart Girls [an online community for girls, encouraging them to be their authentic selves], by making [Leslie in] Parks and Rec not only a positive feminist character but creating a good-hearted worldview within that program.”
Amy: “Thank you. Please note that as we talk to each other, we’re holding hands and we’re touching feet. We’re very close.”