Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Talk Touring Lessons as They Add New Dates (Exclusive)

Video amy poehler and tina fey tour

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler prefer to keep the specifics of their current tour under wraps for the folks who’ve yet to see their 100-minute stage show. And, considering they’ve only played a handful of dates, that group still includes just about everyone.

Well, many more are about to get their chance. The duo has added another seven shows to their Restless Leg Tour, with more expected to be announced down the line. This latest round sees the serial collaborators heading to six cities: Cleveland, Ohio (Sept. 21, State Theatre at Playhouse Square); Denver, Colorado (Oct. 1, Bellco Theatre); Austin, Texas (Oct. 12, Bass Concert Hall); Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 10-11, Resorts World Theatre); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dec. 14, The Met); and Portland, Oregon (Jan. 13, Alaska Airlines’ Theater of the Clouds). Tickets for all new dates go up for presale Wednesday, June 21, at 10 a.m. local time.

“When you think about the ways people could be spending their money right now, it’s gratifying and heartwarming that people are like, ‘Yes, that’s the night out that we want,’” said Fey, during a recent conversation with Poehler and THR. “Because, for me, I don’t want to go to anything. I never want to go out.”

“To even get people into a car feels like a win,” added Poehler.

Ahead of their next batch of shows, the pair also talked about getting Lorne Michaels’ blessing to replicate the “Weekend Update” set on tour, finally having the chance to refine material over a long period of time and why the current Writers Guild of America strike feels different than the last one.

There’s no Los Angeles or New York in this latest batch of dates. Are you forcing me to go to Vegas to see the show?

Tina Fey I would never force anyone to go to Vegas, but I might force you to go to Austin.

Amy Poehler I do think we’re going to do New York and Los Angeles later, probably for a longer run. We just have to figure that out.

How are you approaching pacing these dates?

Fey We definitely work backwards, from school calendar first and foremost.

Poehler And then our own professional obligations. But it’s been cool landing in a city for three or four days to do a bunch of shows together — in DC, Boston, Chicago — in a pocket rather than being out on the road for months and months at a time. We’ve really only done a few cities so far.

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You just played Atlantic City. How does that crowd compare to, say, Chicago?

Poehler Atlantic City is its own country.

Fey There’s not that much of a difference, but we are learning that some cities really like hearing jokes about themselves. Amy says that Boston loves hearing jokes about Boston.

Poehler Yeah, if you’re in Boston, every time you mention the word “Boston” — or any town near Boston — you’re golden. Whereas, Atlantic City wasn’t so much like “This your hometown!” It was, “You’ve driven to this casino!” But we did get a lot of Delco vibes in Atlantic City, which does make me excited for when we get to Philadelphia.

Fey I’m a Jersey Shore-goer since childhood, so I dragged everyone down to stay in Cape May. We’re really trying to find ways to make the most of what is secretly just a ladies weekend every time we’re getting away.

Have any of your kids seen the show yet?

Fey No, they don’t want to see that. If your mom did a show with her friend, where they were just talking to one another for an hour, would you go to that?

Poehler And, on behalf of all women, isn’t there one damn thing we can do where we don’t have to bring our kids? (Laughs.) None of these guys bring their kids, that’s for sure.

Without spoiling anything, the “Weekend Update” desk makes an appearance during the show. Did you have to ask Lorne Michaels or NBC for permission?

Fey I was talking to Lorne about something else and said, “Oh, by the way, we’re doing this. Thank you in advance.” He just laughed.

Poehler If you say the words “thank you in advance” for almost anything, it confuses people. Say you’re trying to buy something … “I’m gonna take this for free, thank you in advance.” The person goes, “You’re welcome?” and then you have enough time to get out of the store.

Fey And we got out of the store.

What have you learned about the audience you’re pulling so far?

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Poehler Tina and I have done so many shows over the years where people haven’t necessarily paid to come see us. We just happened to be there. So, when people spend the time and money to come see you specifically, you’re like, “Oh, now I understand why Bono never gets off the road.” We’ve been doing a section where we answer questions that people ask on their way in, and we’ve learned a lot about our audience and what they’re thinking. They’re really funny, too. During the tour, Tina and I have also partied really hard during the day and gone to Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s. We keep seeing people who came to the show the night before or who are going that night. So, I guess we’re all doing the same stuff.

Fey We’re all googling “best croissant in Washington” and taking a walk.

How do you approach editing and evolving the material with so much space between dates?

Fey Neither of us is particularly precious about a joke. If it worked once and we don’t feel like we need it anymore, neither of us is the type to hang on to it. There are certain topical sections that we regenerate, and that’s been energizing. Some of the jokes have to be new if two weeks have gone by. We have a real shorthand from doing the Golden Globes and “Weekend Update” together.

Poehler I feel proud that if you come to a show more than once, you are going to see a different show the second time. We’re always working on new material. We want to make sure that people feel like the show’s for them. But there are some things that have been working really well, that we keep coming back to, and it’s fun to keep tweaking to see if we can make it better and better.

Fey That’s kind of a luxury, too. With SNL, you get a couple swings at something to make it better. Then it airs, and it’s done. To be able to continue to revisit things in this way, we really enjoy the science of it. Also, after so many years of making single-camera television and movies, hoping someone alone in their house laughs at it, it’s fun to be in the room where they’re laughing.

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Both of you started performing onstage, though these rooms are much bigger.

Poehler We both started on the stage, and that’s where we’ll both … go at the end. (Laughs.) But we had so many early days that were just brutal. Zero laughs.

Fey We really did do gigs that were, like, improvising for people at a business conference in a hotel ballroom before they even got breakfast — just forcing people to look at you. This is the opposite of that.

Poehler I did a gig one time at one of those up-all-night senior parties after their prom — where they lock them in the gym, so they don’t do anything stupid. We were in the Second City touring company and I had to perform in a gym while kids played basketball. So, this is better.

I wonder if this writers strike is getting as much mainstream media attention as the last one. Caring as much about the WGA as I believe you both do, is that something you’re talking about on the road?

Poehler I know a lot of triple-hyphenates — SAG, WGA, DGA — are talking more, which is exciting to see in terms of strength in numbers and solidarity. So I feel, anecdotally, people that aren’t in the business are more aware of it than they were last time. I think that’s simply because the AI issue extends past our business. It’s this general concern about “Where will jobs go?” and “How can corporations be doing so well, and yet the wages of writers continue to go down?” The pure labor movement part does feel like a shared knowledge or experience that’s different than 2007-2008. I don’t know if you would agree, Tina.

Fey Yeah, I think you said it well.

I’m going to let you go, and I realize you’re really spacing this tour out, but I think a lot of people would watch a tour bus doc if you ever choose to go that route.

Poehler I would love to do a Partridge Family-style bus. Or Wavy Gravy’s. All the references nobody remembers! But I do get very car sick, and Tina doesn’t love to drive.

Fey Amy makes me drive.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.