The Ten Best Roles of Tina Fey’s Career

The Ten Best Tina Fey Roles

Tina Fey might just be the smartest and funniest woman in Hollywood.  She cut her teeth in comedy in the legendary Second City in Chicago. As luck would have it, her friend Adam McKay was hired as a writer by Saturday Night Live.  Soon thereafter, McKay convinced Fey to send in some sample sketches. Lorne Michaels was floored and immediately hired her. Eventually, Tina Fey would become the first female head writer in the show’s history.  

Since then, few actresses or writers have been as consistently funny as Tina Fey.  With a pedigree like hers, she constantly has the pull she needs to write inspired women characters.  Who is going to tell Tina Fey what is funny and what isn’t? The next project she has listed on IMDB is called Wine Country.  She is teaming up with a bunch of her old SNL alumnae and they are all heading to Napa to celebrate one of their 50th birthdays.  Who thinks that will be anything other than hilarious?

Kim Baker in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is by far the best film that Tina Fey has starred in thus far in her career.  It wasn’t an ENORMOUS hit, but that is because it was so terribly marketed. The studios must have thought that people would not see the film if they didn’t think it was the usual Tina Fey fare.  Well, this is anything but the usual Tina Fey fare. This movie is a drama, and it is superb. The story follows the famous Afghanistan war correspondent Kim Barker. It starts as a fish-out-of-water story where Kim is out of her element, so there is certainly comedy to be had.  Watching Fey’s reactions to the patriarchal society is priceless.

However,  as her tenure in Kabul advances, so does the tone and the quality of the story.  It is so well done and Fey is truly extraordinary.  She shows that she has dramatic chops as well as the comedic ones we all know her for.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot respects the military, respects the correspondent’s job, and respects the Afghan people.  The ONLY misstep I felt, in the entire movie, was the kitschy performance of Alfred Molina.  Make him a bit more down to earth and intimidating…and you have a near-perfect film.

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Andrea Bayden in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-)

When Tina Fey got sick of all the praise and awards for 30 Rock, she went off and created another sitcom that is equally hilarious.  This time around, she is not starring in the show. She left that up to the brilliant Ellie Kemper.  However, she does pop up a few times. Once as Marcia Clark, and as the scene-stealing Andrea. Andrea is a raging alcoholic therapist that Kimmy decides to open up to.  When your shrink is always drunk and can hardly remember your sessions, she is going to be hilariously ineffective.

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Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls (2004)

Tina Fey is such a good writer that her first screenplay essentially became this generation’s Clueless.  The modern dynamic of high school girls is ripe for comedy and conflict.  Though not only is her screenplay fantastic, but she is great as Ms. Norbury.  She is the cynical adult watching these young women try to destroy each other. When her exasperation shines through, she is hilarious.  The scene where she is trying to take her sweater off is genius.

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Nadya in Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

In 2011, James Bobin wonderfully resurrected The Muppets.  It was such a success that a sequel was guaranteed.  2014’s Muppets Most Wanted is nowhere near as good, but Tina Fey is a delight.  In the grand tradition of Hollywood stars turning up in Muppet movies, Fey shows up as the leader of a gulag.  Fey is really just goofing off during her scenes. However, she has such a sense of comic timing, that she is the funniest thing in the movie.  And, this movie has Ricky Gervais in it.

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Liz Lemon in 30 Rock (2006-2013)

Tina Fey created an amazing sitcom with 30 Rock.  She took her experiences as head writer of SNL and fictionalized it with Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan.  Not only did it resurrect Baldwin’s career, but it essentially solidified Tina Fey as Entertainment’s comedy queen.  The show was so absurdly successful, and Tina Fey won a LOT of awards for it. She has two Golden Globes, 5 Emmys, and 4 Screen Actors Guild trophies on her shelf.  A lot of those were for her hysterical portrayal as the neurotic Liz Lemon.

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Portia Nathan in Admission (2013)

Admission is the perfect use of Tina Fey’s intellectual persona.  In the film, she is the admissions director at Princeton.  Obviously, such an important role comes with it an incredible amount of responsibility.  Also, it comes with a lot of hijinks of desperate students and parents trying to get on her good side.  Fey navigates all of this so cynically well. When Paul Rudd shows up with a young prodigy he feels should have a chance, the film gets a bit more serious.  Fey segues the film into drama perfectly.

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Weekend Update Anchor on Saturday Night Live

Tina Fey may just be the greatest Weekend Update anchor of all time.  She just exudes intelligence and uses it to comically point out hypocrisy, absurdity, and irony in the world.  You could go as far as saying she was even better at that than Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. She had a great chemistry with Jimmy Fallon, but she was never better than when she paired up with Amy Poehler.  

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Claire Foster in Date Night (2010)

This story about a middle-aged couple being mistaken for criminals was a great leap forward in her career.  Previously, her filmography was full of light-hearted comedies. With Date Night, she adds depth, action, and sexual appeal.  She never forgets to be funny and she actually outshines Steve Carell.  However, you have to admire her bravery when she gets into that sexy corset outfit.  Audiences everywhere had the same astonished reaction as her onscreen husband.

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Kate Ellis in Sisters (2015)

Sisters reunited Tina Fey with her Baby Mama co-star, Amy Poehler, and it is a far superior comedy.  This time around, Tina Fey plays a bit against type and is the irresponsible nutball.  The two sisters want to throw one last house party before their parents sell their childhood home.  Fey plays Kate with such goofiness and vulnerability that it is impossible not to root for her the entire film.  Throw in some a cornucopia of supporting actors that each have gut-busting laughs associated with them and you get one hell of a comedy.  Fey and Poehler are just a killer combination.

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Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live has a long, rich tradition of political humor.  Almost every single cast member had their own shot at a politician.  Dana Carvey’s Bush is classic. Will Ferrell’s Bush II was hilarious.  However, none were as pitch-perfect as Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. Beyond the fact that she had the exact look, she was spot on with Palin’s ditzy, aw-shucks persona. Every time she walked on screen as the vice presidential nominee, the entire country knew they were in for a lot of laughs.

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