A timeline of Tina and Fey's friendship: From Chicago's ImprovOlympic, to SNL, to the Golden Globes, and more.

The History of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Best Friendship

The History of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Best Friendship

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Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 9 2015 5:36 PM

The History of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Best Friendship

Before Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host this Sunday's Golden Globes, here's a full timeline of their friendship.

Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

This Sunday’s Golden Globes will be a celebration of TV, movies, globes, free hooch, and foreign journalists—but more important, it will be a celebration of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s 20 years of being “Tina and Amy,” best friends who coincidentally became two of TV’s most beloved comic actresses. And even though we’ve only really known them for about half that time, it feels like forever, as often happens with paldom. Their best friendship is our best friendship. It reminds us that people are kind and funny and able to photobomb each other. Before their first time hosting the Globes in 2013, we walked you through the history of mankind’s greatest friendship since Jesus and whichever apostle he liked best, so with them set to host a third and final time, we updated it (after doing so last year) yet again.


1993: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler meet at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic. The theater’s co-founder Charna Halpern introduced them to each other.

Amy (from Yes Please): “Charna took a liking to me, and me to her. She told me I was just as good as the big boys. She believed in me. She said there was another new improviser in another one of her classes whom she thought I would really like. Her name was Tina and she was like me but with brown hair.”

Co-founder of ImprovOlympic Charna Halpern: “They were just instantly brilliant ... They were not the typical women who get steamrolled by men. [They] were no shrinking violets. They were bold and ballsy and fearless.”

Amy Poehler: “I remember Tina Fey wrote a play about Catherine the Great fucking a horse and I thought, ‘That lady is hot stuff, I wanna know her.’”


Tina Fey: “Yes, yes. I used to take playwriting classes, and I wrote a one-act play—I can’t remember the name of it, but it was really about the way women are perceived as leaders. In the play, Catherine the Great would say things like, ‘You know, John F. Kennedy had extramarital affairs and no one says anything. But I bang one horse and now I’m a horse banger for all eternity? That’s it? That’s what I am?’ I think Hillary Clinton’s got to be able to relate to that.”

Amy (from Yes Please): “She was sharp, shy, and hilarious. We took classes together and sat in the back. She would whisper funny and harsh things about Del [Close, the improv guru and co-founder of ImprovOlympic] to me. When we did scenes together, they weren’t particularly funny or interesting. There was absolutely nothing pointing to the fact that anyone on our team would be successful in any kind of comedy career.” 

Amy: “Actually, we met in class at the ImprovOlympic Theater. You taught me my first real beauty lesson.”

Tina: “I was 22 or 23, and I had only recently learned that you can pluck your eyebrows or have a lady put hot wax on them and remove portions of them and shape them. So this was a big thing that happened to me, and I passed that information on to you.”


Amy: “Back then, I used to get my hair dyed at a place called Big Hair. It cost $15. They just used straight bleach, so my hair was the color of white lined paper, and my eyebrows looked like they were done with a thick black marker.”

Together they help start the improv team Inside Vladimir.


UCB Theatre

Tina and Amy eventually perform a two-woman show together at ImprovOlympic called “Women of Color.” Of the maybe 15 minutes of written material (they pad the rest with improv), it includes a sketch about two policewomen named Powderkeg and Shortfuse. There is only one performance. (A young Seth Meyers is in attendance.)

Executive vice-president of Second City Kelly Leonard: “They were inseparable walking around, and kept trying to get put in casts together.”


They audition for Second City’s touring company on the same day. 


Yes Please

Both get jobs and perform together, alongside Ali Farahnakian, Rachel Hamilton, Bill Chott, Pat McCartney, and others.


UCB Theatre

1996: Amy moves to New York with her sketch group, the Upright Citizens Brigade, freeing up a spot for Tina in one of the Second City main companies.

Tina (from Bossypants): “However, I must say, as a point of pride, that I didn’t get the job because I was a woman. I got the job because Amy Poehler moved to New York with the Upright Citizens Brigade and I was the next best thing.”


Summer 1997: Amy comes back to Chicago to perform with Tina, among others, in ImprovOlympic’s 20th Anniversary Show.



1997: Tina moves to New York to write on Saturday Night Live. She commonly performs with Amy in ASSSSCAT, the Upright Citizens Brigade’s weekly improv show.

1999: Tina appears briefly in an episode of the second season of the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show.


Comedy Central

September 2001: Amy joins Saturday Night Live, after years of Tina asking her to.


Tina, talking to BlackFilm.com: “I would say to her for years do you want to come be on SNL and she’ll be like no no, love UCB. And then she was like well, maybe now. I can’t believe it worked out.”

Tina (from Bossypants): “I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, ‘My friend is here! My friend is here!’ Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.”

March 2002: Tina and Amy appear in the film Martin & Orloff, along with just about every other Chicago improv/UCB alum of their generation.

April 2004: Amy appears in Mean Girls, a film starring and written by Tina.

September 2004: Tina and Amy become the first female co-anchors of “Weekend Update.” It was Tina’s idea, as she basically told Lorne Michaels it was happening. It is wonderful

September 2005: Tina appears with Amy in the one-hour ASSSSCAT special on Bravo

April 2008: Tina and Amy appear on the cover of Vanity Fair and are prominently featured in the story about women in comedy.


Vanity Fair

Lorne Michaels : “Amy and Tina have transcended [the classic pretty girl/ugly friend roles]. Neither is pinned down to that archetype—either one could play either role.”

April 2008: Baby Mama is released, starring Amy and Tina. It’s apparent to the co-stars how much they love each other.

Holland Taylor in Parade: “I worked with [Tina Fey] and Amy Poehler [in Baby Mama]. Oh my God, I’ve never had so much fun working with anybody as with those two. They’re very different [women]. Tina is very cool and mental. Amy’s just this gushing little oil pump of affection. And yet they’re absolutely peas in a pod. They adore each other. They’re like sisters. They’re like Scottie and Westie puppies in a basket.”

Maybe even better than the movie was the lovable press tour they did together.

In Marie Claire, Amy: “Being a tough, capable broad has never been easy—look at us. Although we did have a lot of fun on Baby Mama. Boy, did we play a lot of pranks on each other.”

Tina: “We love pranks. I mean, we’re kind of like Cloons and Damon that way, doing a lot of, like, $250,000 pranks. I did a really funny prank where I got my assistant to paint all the cars in your neighborhood white so you would wake up and think it was snowing. That was a good one.”

Amy: “I had an assistant fill your trailer with rats on Christmas Eve, and we laughed. Oh, the pranks.”

Tina: “So much pranking.” 

May 2008: Oprah!

September 2008: Tina guests on SNL to introduce her Sarah Palin impression. As she later wrote about the experience in Bossypants: “The whole experience was surprisingly serene...Maybe it was because I was safe at the side of my sweet friend Amy.”

Amy (from Yes Please): “The anticipation for Tina playing Palin was so fun to witness, and she explains it well in her book Fifty Shades of Grey. She totally took on what was expected of her and it was awesome to stand next to her as she killed.”

A pregnant Amy: “I don’t care if it’s a girl or a boy, I want it to marry Alice Richmond, Tina’s daughter. We’d make a lovely mother and mother-in-law of the bride.”

Soon after, they kill at the Emmys.

Tina on Amy: “Not only is she not afraid to look silly, she’s not afraid to let you throw her in the air like a basketball and catch her.”  

April 2009: Parks and Recreation premieres, joining 30 Rock on NBC’s Thursday nights. Amy and Tina come to define the lineup over the next four years.

November 2010: Tina wins The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize. Amy, of course, is there to hilariously honor her friend.

April 2011: Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, debuts, featuring a chapter dedicated to Amy Poehler entitled: “I Don’t Care If You Like It (One in a series of love letters to Amy Poehler.”

Amy on Tina: “Please, no. I am not amazed [Tina wrote a book while balancing the rest of her life]. Look, if she sets her mind to it, it gets done. Tina is not the kind of artist who makes people wait around and misses her deadlines. She’s a finisher. (And I mean that in the sexual sense.)”

Tina: “Admire. I admire Amy Poehler.” 

Amy on Tina: “She’s the same way back then as she is now, which is really, really funny and incredibly hard-working and a very supportive and loyal friend. But she was a lot less rich. That was the only difference: she was like 100 percent less rich.”

August 2011: Tina’s second daughter, Penelope, is born. It’s no coincidence that Amy has two sons and Tina two daughters. They will all eventually marry and spawn the future’s funniest people.

September 2011: Amy Poehler organizes a bit at the Emmys ceremony during the announcment of the Outstanding Lead Actress category. She writes in Yes Please, “I knew my girl Tina was down to clown, because she herself was breast-feeding at the time, and as history has shown, this is when a bitch is most likely to go OFF.”

November 2011: Amy is honored by Variety’s Power of Comedy. Tina send in a heartfelt message: “Dictionary.com defines ‘Amy Poehler’ as ‘results not found. I take that as a testament to your uniqueness.’”

April 2012: Amy plays Tina in a cutaway during the live episode of 30 Rock.

October 2012: It’s announced that Amy and Tina will host the 2013 Golden Globes. It is the best news.

Amy (from Yes Please): “Sometimes Tina is like a very talented bungee-jumping expert. All it takes Tina to softly say, ‘We can do this, right?’ and I suddenly feel like I can jump off a bridge.”

October 2012: Amy and Tina’s friendship is so widely known and beloved that it’s auctioned off for charity for an evening. They raise $72,000 and weep “while watching Katy Perry perform.” 

January 2013: Amy and Tina host the Golden Globes. It is unanimously considered to be perfection and is watched by 20 million viewers, up 17 percent from the previous year.

January 2013: At the SAG awards, Tina beats Amy for Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series. She’s visibly upset that Amy didn’t win and tells her she loves her in her thank-you speech.

September 2013: Now award show hosting pros, Tina and Amy heckle Neil Patrick at the Emmys.

October 2013: Amy and Tina sign on to host the next two Golden Globes. They explain why they signed on for two more to Entertainment Weekly:

Amy: “I think we’re excited about getting to get in a little bit of a groove to do it, and—”

Tina: “—to not have to answer the question of ‘Were they invited back?’”

Amy: “And we like the rule of threes. This second time we’re just going to phone it in because we know we’re doing it a third time.”

Tina: “The third time we’re going to show a long highlight reel of the two times that we did it.”

December 2013: Tina and Amy guest-edit Entertainment Weekly together. Besides writing a Letter from the Editors, assigning features on Paula Pell, Ellie Kemper (by Jon Hamm), Natasha Lyonne, and Broad City, they also reveal what comedy duo they are closest to (the Olsen twins, “because when we’re next to each other we like to hug each other a lot, like we’re in the womb”) and update their plan to have their children marry:


Entertainment Weekly

Tina: “It’s out there. I feel like if we push it, they’re going to sense that, so we’re keeping them at opposite sides of the country to create a mystery.”

Amy: “We’ve learned to undersell that idea until they’re of the perfect age, but if we do have a wedding at any point, Tina and I are going to insist that we write and perform a song that we sing to our children.”

Tina: “We have committed that we’re both going to wear peach to the wedding. I talked to Faith Popcorn about it, and the trend is going to come around right about the time that they should get married.”

Amy: “You got Faith Popcorn on the line!”

Tina: “I have Faith Popcorn on retainer. I’m sorry—what I meant to say is that I have popcorn stuck in my retainer.”

December 2013: Tina and Amy cameo together in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. They play anchors of an entertainment news program who take part in the sequel’s massive battle scene. It’s hard to say if they won, because does anyone ever win in war? Fine, they totally won!

January 2014: Amy and Tina host the Golden Globes again. Our love for them and their love for each other hits a new peak.

April 2014: Tina and Amy are cast to co-star in The Nest. In the film, written by longtime SNL writer Paula Pell, they’ll play two sisters (finally!) who spend one last crazy weekend in their childhood home before selling it. (More set pictures here.)

May 2014: Amy and Tina perform together at Spike’s One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles. They destroy.

October 2014: Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, debuts, featuring a chapter dedicated to Tina Fey, entitled “Partner in Crime.” It includes gems like:

“People think of us as a ‘comedy team’ and I am not quick to correct them. Why wouldn’t I want to connect myself to the fiercest and most talented voice in the comedy world?”

“I am mistaken for Tina all the time. I recently renewed my license at the DMV and the African American woman asked me to do my Sarah Palin. She was confused and perhaps racist, but it only made me happy. I’m happy that people call me Tina because she is my friend and she happens to be crushing it.”

To top it all off, Amy wrote Tina an acrostic poem: 


Yes Please

January 2015: Amy and Tina host Golden Globes for a third time, completing the greatest trilogy of our time.