Tina Fey makes fun of her past in ‘SNL’ ad for fake TV show ‘Chicago Improv’

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Tina Fey (with Alex Moffat, left, and Mikey Day) flashes back to her days on little local stages during the “Chicago Improv” bit on “Saturday Night Live.” | NBC

About an hour after she reminded “Saturday Night Live” viewers that it’s been 20 years since she started working for the show, host Tina Fey offered a glimpse of her life before that, when she was just another wannabe making stuff up on Chicago stages.

In a mock commercial for a new “Chicago Fire” spinoff from producer Dick Wolf, Fey and “SNL” cast members played the stars of NBC’s upcoming “Chicago Improv.” As the announcer billed it, “Watch as people wearing plaid balance love and ambition in America’s No. 3 comedy market!”

“SNL” succeeded in making the imaginary series look unbearable, as the actors bounced around a bare stage, resisted an audience suggestion of “dildo” and then bickered backstage using jargony language about “sweep edits” and “object work.”

Fey, dressed in the overalls she favored during her ‘90s run with Inside Vladimir and other iO Chicago ensembles, played one of the team members alongside more recent iO alumni Alex Moffatt, Chris Redd and Luke Null. At one point she was seen toting a huge electronic keyboard, an homage to the burden endured by her husband, Jeff Richmond, when he was an iO accompanist during the same era.

The ad promised to expose a “cutthroat world” of improvisers fuming with egotism and jealousy — much as director Mike Birbiglia did in his 2016 movie “Don’t Think Twice,” only with far less reverence.

Placed in the 11:55 p.m. slot, reserved for “SNL’s” more esoteric segments, the bit was the final sketch of the show’s 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, the season finale was stuffed with celebrity cameos, starting with another opening about President Donald Trump’s troubles, this one parodying the final scene of “The Sopranos,” complete with diner, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” an inept parallel parking job (by Moffatt as Eric Trump) and a sudden blackout. This one had no surprise cameos and relied on the usual Not Ready for Prison Time Players: Alec Baldwin as Trump, Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen, Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, plus Kate McKinnon back as Rudolph Giuliani and Mikey Day as Trump Jr.

Fey’s monologue actually made fun of “SNL’s” recent excess of star cameos, utilizing past hosts Jerry Seinfeld (who offered to return to play Steve Mnuchin, once he figures out who that is), Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Rock, Anne Hathaway, Donald Glover and Tracy Morgan to make the case. At one point Fey and Fred Armisen lamented that all the returning cast members are taking away time from the current cast — deliberately taking a long time to do so.

And then another political bit later in the show, a parody of “What I Did for Love” sung by various Trump hangers-on, found room for Fey to put on her Sarah Palin glasses and John Goodman to reprise his Rex Tillerson shtick.

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