The reaction to Tina Fey’s response to the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville on “Saturday Night Live” last August was mixed. And while appearing on David Letterman’s new Netflix series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” the comedian admitted she understands the backlash to her urging people to eat cake to cope.
“I’m well aware that there were some differing views,” Letterman said when approaching the topic with Fey. “But I just thought, here’s something to let the gas out of a situation that should not have happened. And I thought it was performed beautifully and written beautifully.”
While Fey thanked Letterman for the “kind” words about her appearance on “Weekend Update,” she added, “Here’s what was wrong with it.”
The University of Virginia alum says she was attempting to “provide some relief” for viewers of NBC’s late-night sketch show just after the violent protest occurred. “You try your best, you try to have your eyes open, you try to be so mindful,” she said. “But it’s also a fast-moving train. So I felt like a gymnast who did a very solid routine and broke her ankle on the landing.”
It was in the last two or three sentences of her appearance that Fey thinks she “screwed up,” when she encouraged “all good, sane Americans” to treat the other planned alt-right rallies “like the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads: Don’t show up. Let these morons scream into the empty air.”
“The implication is that I was telling people to give up and not be active and to not fight,” Fey said to Letterman. “That was not my intention, obviously.” She said if she could go back and do it over, she would end with, “fight them in every way except the way that they want.”
Fey is not active on social media, but learned of the criticism of her bit through friends who texted her, “I don’t care what anybody says.”
“The culture of apology is not for me,” she said, of considering making a Twitter account to make amends. “So what I will do is I promise, I swear to God, anybody who was mad at me, I hear you and I will learn, but I’m also not going to stop trying.”
“I’m relieved I don’t work at ‘SNL’ [right now],” Fey said later. “The level of outrage is so high. It feels like talking to anyone, anywhere in 2018 is just landmine hopscotch.” However, Fey will take on a hosting gig on the show’s season finale on May 19.
Watch the clip of Fey on “Saturday Night Live” below.