By: Tina Fey

would boo the shit out of her. I didn’t want that to happen and I definitely didn’t want to stand next to her while that happened and have it seem like we had laid a trap for her. I didn’t want to be complicit in an ugly live-TV moment during what was becoming an increasingly ugly campaign.

Lorne didn’t think it would be a problem. However, Lorne was also riding three weeks of 7+

ratings, and the real Mrs. Palin would surely exceed that. She was ratings gold—pure nuggets of “ratings gold” just waiting to be extracted from the teeth of a corpse. (In this metaphor I’m not sure if the corpse represents my career, the McCain campaign, or broadcast television.) I told Lorne that if the real governor did the show, I would sit this one out. Lorne suggested I not decide so quickly. He and I both knew that things had gotten so weird in the cable news cycle that if I didn’t show up, it would be just as much of a fake news story. The CNN crawl would have read, “MEAN

GIRL: Fey refuses to appear with Palin. Palin supporters call the move ‘un-American’ and ‘vaguely Jewish.’ Tonight at 9 EST Rick Sanchez uncovers the Corn Syrup Myth…”

It really was a catch-22 for me, unless Lorne would just decline to have her on. And that wasn’t going to happen. See above re: ratings gold.

I was hurt that Lorne would put me in this position. At the same time, it is never lost on me that he also “put me in the position” of being on TV in the first place, which no one else in the world would have done. Trust me, I used to audition for things.

I called Lorne and said I would do the show but that it was very important to me that we protect Governor Palin from being booed. I suggested that he start with her backstage in the 8H hallway. The live audience would only see her on the monitors and, not knowing if what they were seeing was live or pretaped, they would be less likely to boo.

My only other request was this: I never wanted to appear in a “two shot” with Mrs. Palin. I mean, she really is taller and better looking than I am, and we would literally be wearing the same outfit.

I’d already been made to stand next to Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek on camera in my life; a gal can

only take so much. And honestly, I knew that if that picture existed, it would be what they show on the Emmys someday when I die, and I’d really rather they show this picture.

Lorne called back the next day to say he had an idea and Seth was working on a draft. We’d start with me in a fake press conference, then cut to Lorne and Governor Palin backstage. It was Lorne’s idea to have Alec Baldwin there, too.

As a beloved SNL host and a known liberal crusader, Alec standing next to Sarah would send out an “everybody be cool” message to the audience.

We rehearsed on Saturday afternoon as usual, but this time there was massive security in the building for the vice presidential nominee. I met Mrs. Palin on the studio floor when we came out to rehearse. She was in full hair and makeup because she’d come straight from a campaign stop. I had my hair in a ponytail and looked my trademark exhausted. We shook hands and I blurted out, “Don’t worry, they’ll put makeup on me.” As we took our places to rehearse, my daughter pointed animatedly at Governor Palin on the monitor. “She’s confused,” Mrs. Palin laughed.

We didn’t hang out much, but we chatted a little about children. She offered her daughter Bristol to babysit Alice during the show if need be. I thanked her, saying Alice was too little to stay for the show. She always went home with her dad after the dinner break. I can’t imagine Bristol would have been too psyched to do that anyway; it was her eighteenth birthday, she was in New York City, and I had made a vicious joke about her a week earlier. But I appreciated the mom-ness of Mrs. Palin’s offer. She might as well have said, “You guys need to take these sets down tonight? Cuz I can get Todd down here with a Makita.”

Mrs. Palin’s whole camp was helpful. Her hairstylist made adjustments to my wig to make it even more like the governor’s hair. Her makeup artist identified the lip color that we’d been trying to figure out for four weeks: It was just lip liner, under Chapstick.

And then it was 11:30.

Seth wrote an admirable Sneaker Upper. Some solid jokes at the top, and Alec was funny with her backstage. There was the requisite amount of sweaty feigned surprise.

Governor Palin and I crossed paths for just an instant, and when she took center stage she was greeted with a long round of applause. I’d like to think that my suggestion of starting her backstage paid off, but more likely I had underestimated what a giant media star Sarah Palin was; even the New Yorkiest audience was giddy to see her in person.

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