The Today show hosts are the longest-running female duo

By Caroline Redmond
April 04, 2018 07:14 PM
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Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb are saying cheers to 10 years!

The talk show duo is celebrating a decade of hosting the fourth hour of NBC’s Today show together in the best way they know how: with lots of laughs and lots of wine. PEOPLE got a chance to catch up with the hosts ahead of their big anniversary special to reminisce over their 10 years on air and find out what they think are the keys to the success of their show.

“I’m just whimsical about it, like where did it go?” Gifford, 64, tells PEOPLE of the milestone. “It’s really crazy and surreal for us to watch back all these taped pieces because obviously we did them, but you forget … so it’s especially fun to celebrate watching back all of the crazy memories.”

“I keep having out of body experiences when I’m looking at Kath,” Kotb, 53, says of reliving highlights from the last decade of the show. “I remember the first day out on the Plaza in our trench coats and what that felt like and I remember the days that I couldn’t stop laughing.”

The pair, who is currently the longest-running female duo on TV, describes each other and the show’s 25 crew members as “one amazingly loving family.” Tammy Filler, the executive producer of the Kathie Lee and Hoda hour and 15-year Today show veteran, says that the hosts and staff have been by each other’s sides through some of life’s highest peaks — like the birth of Kotb’s daughter Haley Joy, 14 months, whom she adopted last year — and lowest pits, including the death of Gifford’s husband Frank in August 2015.

“I think the magical experiences in life that we have all been through together have been incredible,” Filler says. “The birth of a child, the death of a loved one, all the things with the staff … everybody says everyday that they are blessed to come in to work and have this much fun and work with two incredible women.”

Hoda Kotb/Instagram

“We just laugh all the time and it’s ridiculous,” Kotb adds.

The show’s hilarious antics, booze-themed days of the week, legendary Halloween costumes and no-filter style are what make it a hit with fans, but openness with the audience was something that Kotb had a difficult time adjusting to coming from a hard news background.

“I used to think that the scariest thing you could do was to reveal yourself,” Kotb says. “But you have to realize that that’s the only way to be. It’s the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing to do to just be who you are and trust it. Kath always says, ‘Just trust it, we’re here and I’ll catch you, so don’t worry.’ ”

Gifford, who previously had a 15-year run co-hosting Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, says she knew that her and Kotb were going to have a good show when they first started back in 2008, but she thought that it would be an “uphill, unwinnable battle to have a hit show at 10 o’clock in the morning.” However, soon after she realized that the pairing of Kotb, an “award-winning Dateline journalist” and herself, a self-described “menopausal has-been,” was a comedy gold mine.

RELATED VIDEO: Hoda Kotb Gushes About Her 1-Year-Old Daughter on ‘The Dr. Oz Show’

“Our fans turn us on in the morning as an antidote for so much of what is going on in the world today,” Gifford says. “They want to laugh, they’ve gotten all of the bad news they can stomach, they are ready to laugh and to be reminded that there’s goodness left in the world and it’s okay to laugh and make fun of yourself and it’s okay to listen to fart sounds.”

On Wednesday night, the Today staff celebrated the milestone with a party at the Rainbow Room, complete with flower center pieces by Venus et Fleur and signature drinks: Hoda’s soda (Ketel one, cucumber, mint and soda) and glasses of Gifford’s GIFFT Wine.

Kathie Lee and Hoda’s 10th anniversary special airs Friday, April 6 on NBC.