My Comedy Hero: Sean McLoughlin on Tina Fey
- Brian Donaldson
- 12 February 2019
One of the true rising stars of British stand-up, Sean McLoughlin is taking his Hail Mary show across the UK this spring. Here, he picks the US writer, sitcom star and movie actor as his comedic icon
I am very lucky that, as of writing this, nobody has realised how much I've ripped off Tina Fey. Of course there are countless amazing comedians who I love and admire, but her work is probably the biggest single influence on my joke writing. On the surface our work may be different (me a straight stand-up, her primarily working in sitcoms) but when I'm struggling to find the right words for a routine I will often stop and ask myself: 'how would Tina Fey write this?'
It's the tone of her work I find so exciting, and it's there throughout all her jobs in various mediums. Her stuff is always fun and packed with big punchlines, but she also seems to have a deep understanding of culture and an acute awareness of how ridiculous and brutal life can be. My favourite joke of all time might be from when she co-hosted the Golden Globes in 2015 and said: 'Selma is about the American civil rights movement which totally worked and now everything is fine.'
Like most people it was 30 Rock that first brought me to her, and that remains both her defining work and my favourite sitcom. It's just so smart, and so sweet, and so relentlessly funny. Each episode feels like an education in TV comedy, bursting with creativity and warmth and an extraordinary gag rate. Ultimately, 30 Rock is so entertaining that it's easy to overlook how ambitious it was in scope, with the initial 'showbiz sitcom' premise quickly spinning off into storylines about politics, social issues, business and most areas of modern society.
Now that I think about it, this is true of all her output from Mean Girls to SNL to the awards show appearances to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. They're all big comedies with mass appeal, but scratch the surface and there's so much more going on underneath. She's like a Trojan Horse being wheeled into the mainstream and inside is this mountain of brains and silliness about to be unleashed. What can I say? I'm a huge fan and whenever anything is released and Tina Fey's name is on it, then I will want to go to there.
Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary is on tour from Friday 1 March to Saturday 11 May.