Tina Fey discussed the political influence of Saturday Night Live in a new interview

By Helen Murphy
April 19, 2019 09:58 AM

Tina Fey is happy to no longer be on starring on Saturday Night Live, discussing in a new podcast how today’s “ugly” political climate has changed the long-running show.

Fey — who famously portrayed 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on the sketch comedy series — appeared on the newest episode of actor David Tennant’s podcast David Tennant Does a Podcast With…, published on Monday.

The 48-year-old comedian said she was “glad” she was no longer starring on the sketch comedy series, explaining that portraying and hosting political figures has become more complicated.

“The culture is so ugly and the political climate is so ugly. We would always have everybody on because you could,” Fey said. “You’d have Bush Sr. come do a thing with Dana Carvey before I worked there. It’s so truly ugly now.”

Tina Fey as a guest star on Saturday Night Live
| Credit: NBC / Getty Images

Fey’s former 30 Rock costar Alec Baldwin now plays Trump on many episodes of the show, and other famous actors like Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have also stepped in to portray political figures.

When Tennant asked if she thought she was responsible for the downfall of Palin’s political ambitions, the actress and former SNL head writer said no.

“I think she’s the nail in her own coffin, but I think it shined a light on something,” Fey said, adding that she wanted to make sure her portrayal was “fair” at the time.

Fey also explained why she didn’t want Palin to guest star on the show.

“I didn’t want to be in a two-shot with her,” the actress recalled. “Because I just thought, ‘Well, that’s what they’ll show when I die.’ When I die, that’s what they’ll show on the Emmys. And they still might!”

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Fey then referred to the controversy that surrounded Jimmy Fallon in 2016 after he conducted a lighthearted interview with Donald Trump, including playfully tousling Trump’s hair, as well as the backlash after the now-president appeared as host of SNL in 2015.

“It’s something they butted up against later, with Trump. Poor Jimmy, that was sort of business as usual,” she said. “You wouldn’t think, like, ‘Oh, you can’t have a presidential candidate on your talk show.’ But the world had changed. He’s since very much realized that.”

“I don’t think that show can really sway people,” the comedian continued, talking about the impact of SNL‘s political commentary. “I think you can shine a light. You can help them articulate something they’re already feeling about a given person.”