(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Just how much does Tina Fey prefer filming Unbreakeable Kimmy Schmidt in Greenpoint to shooting 30 Rock in Long Island City? A lot, she told Damian Holbrook, of TV Guide, during a one-on-one Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival. “In seven years, I never took a walk,” she said of working out of Silver Cup Studios, in the Queensboro Bridge area. “We just kept waiting for it to gentrify and it never did.”

Across the street from Silver Cup was “one of those fully nude strip clubs where they don’t sell alcohol,” Fey recalled. “Who’s that for? I wanna be real sober and humiliate these ladies.” Compared to that, Fey said, Greenpoint is “really cool” and “nice— there’s beautiful restaurants and bakeries.”

Unbreakable is, of course, a fixture in the neighborhood—and with season 2 now streaming on Netflix, it’s once again a fixture on our TV sets. Holbrook suggested, and Fey agreed, that the show’s style of humor amounts to a “joke turducken.”

As it turns out, that’s not entirely Fey’s doing. “That density of jokes and that tone that a lot of the times I get credit for is really very much Robert Carlock, who is a master at jokes,” she said, referring to the show’s co-creator. “Sometimes we’ll go back and forth, we’re doing a cut pass, and I’ll be like, ‘You have a joke here and then there’s a joke here. Can we cut this?”

Fey first met Carlock at Saturday Night Live. “Robert was one of the harder writers who would sit in the back corner and not laugh at anyone’s pieces but their own,” she recalled. “The German part of me really respected what a hard nut he was to crack.” They became fast friends, and Carlock produced Weekend Update when Fey and Jimmy Fallon took it over. After Carlock left to write for Friends and then Joey, Fey called him to help with the 30 Rock pilot, and he ended up moving his family from New York to California. “He thought he was staying until this thing went under and he’s been here for like 11 years.”

“We’re probably gonna share a grave,” Fey joked about him, going on to explain why he’s so valuable as a partner. “The hardest thing for me, still, is breaking story, especially since I come from an improv and sketch comedy background, where story is actually your enemy… I continue to try to learn story. Robert Carlock is better at it than I am— I’ll still be like is that a story and then is that enough?”

The more famous of Fey’s career-long collaborators is, of course, Amy Poehler. The two first performed together in 1993, and went on to tour with Second City. “We’d go around in a van with seven other people and we would do shows for $75 a show.”

“Like a stripper,” Holbrook suggested.

“Like the world’s worst stripper,” Fey corrected. “Like, so would have done better with, like, giving hand jobs.”

Of course, the duo has since gone on to work together on SNL, at the Emmys, and most recently in the film Sisters. “We’re regarded as a comedy team, which is certainly fine by me,” Fey said. “People sometimes do say, like, ‘Why don’t you do a series together?’ or whatever. And the funny thing is – and I think we both know this to be true – it’s because we’re actually both alphas. So it works, like, it works in short spurts.”

The two also appeared together in Mean Girls, which Fey is currently adapting into a musical. Since the film version was released in 2004, Holbrook pointed out, social media has become the popular means of being mean. Fey, who is not on Twitter, agreed: “I always say, I George W. Bush it— remember he would be like, ‘I don’t read the paper’? And I was like, ‘Ah… good choice.’”

So, will the Mean Girls musical tackle social media? “The thing about social media is that it doesn’t dramatize well,” Fey said, “But, yeah, it’s been an ongoing question of, ‘Oh, do you take out things that are now outdated, like three-way calling?’”

If the musical is anything like the original, language will also be an issue. “There were like 12 different drafts of that script,” Fey said of the movie version. “It started as an R [rating]— it would’ve definitely been an R and then it slowly moved to be cleaner and better. It was just, like foul language, it was just more like how we used to actually talk to each other.”

As a result of that toning-down, Fey was champing at the bit when it came time for her more recent big-screen collaboration with Poehler. “I do curse a lot in real life. Coming from tv, Amy and I, when we were doing Sisters, after a couple of days of the freedom of cursing constantly we were like, ‘Okay, we gotta reign it in here now, actually— just tell this story without just loving how much we get to curse.’”

In addition to the Mean Girls musical, Fey currently has a script in development for a movie about witches— a role that she admitted is fraught for female actresses. “I saw some interview where Meryl Streep was saying when she hit 40 or something all the sudden people were just offering her movies where she plays witches and she was like, ‘Screw you.’ It’s funny because [roles for women throughout their career] goes like, “ingénue, ingénue, working gal… witch?”

Fey, of course, is doing her part to give women better filmmaking opportunities, though she stressed that “I want them to be the right women and be qualified and to be able to hold their own— I never want to Icarus anyone.” She cited an episode in the new season of Kimmy Schmidt – “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady,” in which Fey debuts her character, Andrea the drunk therapist – that was written by Meredith Scardino and directed by Claire Scanlon. The episode’s stunt coordinator was also a woman, Jill Brown. “She was coordinating a fight among the women in the bunker so it was just all these ladies in this bunker and I was like, ‘I’m so happy! I’ve never had this!’”