Two towering titans of comedy, retired talk show host David Letterman and 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt creator Tina Fey, met recently at a posh Manhattan restaurant for a rare one-on-one interview. Nominally, the reason for this tête-à-tête was that Fey had been given the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award by The Hollywood Reporter, an honor named for the pioneering female film executive. But, really, any excuse to get these two in a room and talking would have been acceptable.
A year and a half removed from hosting CBS’ Late Show, Letterman is said to have arrived at the interview in a T-shirt and sporting a retired-guy beard, but he was still “exquisitely prepared” for his conversation with Fey. Topics include parenting, Donald Trump-related anxiety, the current state of television, and whether Lorne Michaels is really all that terrifying. For the record, Fey claims Michaels is “nothing to be afraid of.” As for Trump, Fey says that the president-elect’s Twitter feud with her 30 Rock costar Alec Baldwin “makes me feel sick for the state of the world because it’s so beneath a president.” On the other hand, she knows Baldwin will be able to hold his own: “You think you’re good at being a jerk on Twitter? You will now face the grandmaster of being a jerk on Twitter.”
It becomes clear, over the course of the interview, that these two people see the world in very different ways. Here’s Fey on raising kids: “They augment your life and your perspective.” Here’s Letterman: “Parenting is a nonstop, endless horizon of anxiety.” Fey seems comfortable with herself at this point in her life, while Letterman is still wracked by self-doubt.
The conversation does take a few unexpected detours along the way. Fey piques Letterman’s interest by mentioning her fascination with the life and career of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, a woman most widely remembered as a Nazi propagandist. Fey admits that Riefenstahl did “some terrible, terrible things” but was, in her own way, “a brilliant pioneer” as well.
The entire conversation can be found here.