By Michael Arbeiter, Hollywood.com Staff
This past weekend, guilt overtook me and I agreed to one of my bimonthly meetups with the gang from college. People whose post-grad lives have taken them to law school, jobs in finance, and existences sans Saturday Night Live. Something I managed to avoid during our four years at school together was that one of my old housemates has never watched an episode of NBC's immortal variety show a fact I find befuddling. In a spring of passion, I began declaring all the great things that SNL has given to the world, topping my list with two of the funniest and most important names in contemporary comedy: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who have just been announced as the joint hosts of the upcoming 70th Golden Globes. Once their names came into the mix, that's when the conversation became volatile.
Another friend of mine took issue with my highlighting of these two women in particular. ""Those are your top two?"" he asked. ""What about Dan Aykroyd? Chevy Chase? Rodney Dangerfield?"" Yes, he said Rodney Dangerfield. And while I have no deficit of appreciation for the contributions that Aykroyd, Chase, Jim Belushi (whom my friend insisted he meant when he said Rodney Dangerfield) have made to comedy, I will not let their seniority sway me: the comic team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler might very well be the best thing to come out of Saturday Night Live. Ever.
Fey and Poehler, SNL colleagues from the time the latter came on board the cast in 2001, began to showcase the bounties of their onscreen camaraderie when Poehler joined Fey as cohost of the show's Weekend Update segments in '04.
In Fey's 2011 memoir Bossypants, she illustrates her appreciation of Poehler as a voice for a progression of female comedy, and simply an innately funny individual:""Amy was in the middle of some ... nonsense ... and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can't remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and 'unladylike.' Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, 'Stop that! It's not cute! I don't like it.'
Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second and wheeled around on him. 'I don't f***ing care if you like it.' Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. Insert penis joke here.)
With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn't there to be cute. She wasn't there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys' scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not f***ing care if you like it. 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.""The two would continue their Weekend Update partnership until 2006, when Fey left SNL to create and star in 30 Rock, but the camaraderie maintained. Fey's and Poehler's mastery of the small screen eventually earned them a place in theaters: Saturday Night Live writer Michael McCullers created the feature film Baby Mama as a vehicle for their dynamic comic chemistry, casting Fey as a straight-laced aspiring mother and Poehler as her white trash surrogate.
In addition to the movie itself, Fey and Poehler actually collaborated on several exemplary marketing campaigns which, if all strung together and projected in theaters, could stand as a perfectly sufficient Oscar-worthy comedy. Below is a featurette from the Moviefone series ""Unscripted"":
And a featurette from the Cinemax series ""60 Seconds"":
Baby Mama was highly effective in launching the magic that came organically when Fey and Poehler were placed next to one another and asked to say things. The pair's award presentation at the 60th Primetime Emmy ceremony later in 2008 is just another example of this very magic:
And finally, the most memorable event of Fey's and Poehler's 2008: the variety show's former head writer would return to her old stomping grounds, taking a position beside her friend in the highly influential election-themed send up of Hillary Clinton and (to a much greater extent) Sarah Palin.
Although the years to follow offered the world fewer collaborations between Fey and Poehler, their friendship remained perfectly, vividly intact. As Fey once joked in a 2011 NBC ad, ""Amy Poehler and I have been friends for so long, we're like Oprah and Gale. Only we're not denying anything.""
Earlier this year, Poehler took a brief guest cameo on 30 Rock, playing a high school-aged version of Fey's character Liz Lemon.
But we're still waiting for Fey to make it over to Parks and Recreation. Maybe as an old friend of Leslie Knope's who moved out of Pawnee to explore the world? A rival city councilwoman who makes trouble for the newcomer? Ron Swanson's terrifying younger sister? We'd be game for anything.
And we're game for the upcoming Golden Globes, fully optimistic about anything these two have in store for us. And if you're still not 100% won over by the prospect of Fey and Poehler at the head of the awards ceremony, here's this:
Bam. Lemon out.
[Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage]
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