No stranger to spoofing presidential candidates, “Saturday Night Live” alum Tina Fey weighed in on Donald Trump’s presidential bid at a panel for her Netflix comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday morning.
“It’s great for comedy,” she quipped of Trump’s increasingly controversial campaign. “I’m sure ‘Saturday Night Live’ wished they were on the air right now … I do feel like next year at this time hopefully you’ll be doing a panel with just Darrell Hammond being given a lifetime achievement award for whatever sketches come away.” Sadly, Fey admitted she had “no fully formed jokes” for Trump’s run yet.
The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” co-creator also discussed the appeals of the Netflix model now that the producers are creating a season specifically for the streaming site (while season one was originally intended to air on NBC). While Fey and co-creator Robert Carlock admitted that they weren’t planning to make any drastic changes to the content of the show, they said there will be some opportunities to experiment.
“The tone of the show does feel set … You won’t hear profanity or see nudity, but it gives us license to play with time and structure and not to worry about potentially offending an advertiser,” Fey noted, adding that Netflix doesn’t adhere to the strict 21 minutes and 15 seconds run time given to broadcast comedies, although the producers don’t currently intend to go beyond 30 minutes in episode length. “They definitely encourage us to go past 21:15 … we want to be our own guides and not let ourselves get slow.”
She also expressed approval for Netflix’s attitude towards ratings. “We don’t have any actual numbers … but I immediately heard from so many more people than I did during ’30 Rock,’ so I feel like a lot of people are watching.”
Writing is underway for season two, which begins filming August 17. “One of the fun challenges of the show is not letting Kimmy stop being Kimmy. She has to keep that strength and optimism,” Carlock said of next season’s story.
Fey noted that while Kimmy would love to believe that her time in the bunker is behind her following season one’s trial, “some new obstacles may present themselves before she can go on and live a fully realized life … She’s in a big hurry to get everything she wanted out of the missing years of her life, and hitting some speedbumps along the way.”
Ellie Kemper, who plays the titular heroine, recalled her experience working with co-star Jon Hamm (cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne), who once taught her improv in a high school theater class. “I was a little scared because I think there’s still a teacher‑student dynamic — and acting with him was a little bit nerve‑racking just because I felt like he was still grading me on some level,” she laughed. “But he’s a wonderful man. I think we can all say that. And it was a lot of fun. It was exhilarating.”
Unsurprisingly, Kemper admitted Hamm was a hit with the students at his alma mater when he returned to teach for a year after graduating. “He was not ugly,” she quipped. “He was well-regarded and everyone loved him.”