There’s nothing worse than bad improv, and it’s no stretch to say that most improv is bad improv. Most would agree, however, that you’re in safe hands with Tina Fey, who spent years honing her comedy in dingy Chicago storefronts before hitting it big on Saturday Night Live. Now, in a preview for Fey’s May 4th appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, the comedian gets to flaunt her formidable chops in a short scene with Letterman himself.
It goes without saying saying that improvisation is part and parcel of being a talk show host, but what the above scene with the pair makes clear is that Letterman is good at playing one character: himself. When Fey tries to set a scene at a beach, Letterman breaks character almost immediately—“This part’s true,” he prefaces—to discuss “something” on his back that’s probably due to “sun exposure.” Letterman’s hilarious refusal to play along, however, is quickly undone by a cutting retort from Fey that stops both the host and the scene dead in their tracks. This, dear readers, is good improv.
We can stack this up in the filmography alongside Letterman’s scene in 1994's Cabin Boy, which is yet another bit of acting from the legendary host that features no acting whatsoever. Revisit below: