Tina Fey‘s super-successful run as Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live” has left many GOP-lovers steaming. But the Emmy winner told guests at a Producers Guild of America event Saturday morning that the show always intentionally shot for political neutrality when it came to parodying elections.
“We spent so much time and care on making sure everything, we felt, was a fair hit,” said Fey, who was a featured speaker at “Produced By: New York” conference. “We never, ever went into it being like, ‘We gotta protect Obama, we gotta make them [Republicans] look bad.'”
Though Fey said it was important for the show to not clearly make its political sketches biased toward one side, the current election cycle has seen a marked change.
“If it doesn’t ring true of people, it’s not going to be funny. This time around, it’s so fascinating because it’s so, so ugly, she said. “This election’s so ugly that it’s not quite business as usual.”
Fey pointed to former “SNL” colleague Jimmy Fallon, who faced criticism for his interview with presidential candidate Donald Trump, as an example of how the vitriol created from this election cycle has bled into entertainment.
“I really felt for Jimmy when people were angry that he had Trump on,” she said. “If you look at it, it’s not Jimmy who p–d in that punch bowl. … It’s not Jimmy who made this horrible, ugly world that we’re currently living in.”
Although Fey is no longer starring on “SNL,” she said she has become the show’s “worst nightmare” because she regularly checks in to see what’s on the docket — something she said she experienced with former “SNL” writer and Minnesota Senator Al Franken when she was a new writer.
Fey recalled a time when Franken publicly criticized one of her sketches about John McCain.
“He wasn’t wrong, but in my mind, it was sort of like, ‘You’re not wrong but you know the phone number, right? Like, you can call me, but you want to tell Larry King,'” Fey said.
Years later, when Franken was in the midst of his political campaign to become a senator, Fey said that he had asked her to donate to his campaign. She declined.
“I finally texted him — I was like, ‘I knew you could do it without my $4,000,'” she said after Franken won the senate position. “Senator Al Franken, to his credit, texted back to me, ‘F–k you.'”