The AFI Lifetime Achievement recipient jokes about the striking similarities of two women in his life

By Jennifer Garcia
Updated June 12, 2015 03:40 PM
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Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty

When Steve Martin sat down inside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles to receive the 43rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, there was a not-so-familiar (to the public) face by his side: His wife of seven years, writer Anne Stringfield.

Stringfield – who prefers to stay out of the spotlight and has “never walked a red carpet,” admits Martin – looked stunning but also a bit stunned when the camera panned her way during Tina Fey‘s hilariously heartwarming speech about the comedian-actor-musician-writer-producer.

Fey had the audience in stitches when she pointed out Stringfield’s resemblance to her. Martin married “a woman who is, I think a younger, thinner, smarter version of me,” quipped Fey, 45. Stringfield was a good sport, laughing at the joke albeit a touch embarrassed by the attention.

Martin, who looks back at his life in pictures in the new issue of PEOPLE, laughs when asked about Fey’s comment. “She does look like my wife!” he admits.

Martin, 69, calls his relationship with Stringfield, with whom he has a young daughter, “an important episode in my life. …She makes it all possible. She has one of the most important qualities a person can have, and that’s kindness.”

As for his longtime friend Fey, whom Martin first met as a writer on Saturday Night Live, she’s “such a force,” he says. The pair later costarred in 2008’s Baby Mama, a role Martin “loved doing.”

RELATED VIDEO: Conan O’Brien’s Hilarious Toast to Steve Martin

The 43rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, a tribute, airs on TBS June 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

For more from Steve Martin and his Life in Pictures, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands now.