Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 161) – Tina Fey

Tina Fey – American Actress, Writer and Producer

Tina Fey – American Actress, Comedienne, Writer and Producer

“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.

“This is something Lorne [Michaels] has said often about Saturday Night Live, but I think it’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go.

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. (And I’m from a generation where a lot of people died on waterslides, so this was an important lesson for me to learn.) You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring on live TV.

“What I learned about ‘bombing’ as an improviser at Second City was that bombing is painful, but it doesn’t kill you. No matter how badly an improv set goes, you will still be physically alive when it’s over. What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your ‘permanent record.’ Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.”

 Tina Fey


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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7 Responses to Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 161) – Tina Fey

  1. Pingback: 5:00 am. And Inspired. – Lead.Learn.Live.

  2. Chris Daly says:

    Hi again John and all. The similar data that I use a lot to great effect is a phrase, I may have sourced from this site also is, “Done is better than perfect.” This has helped in many of my speeches. Cheers, Chris.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Chris,

      I don’t think that expression comes from my site, but I like it very much. Thanks for sharing it.


      • Chris Daly says:

        Just to do justice to the author, John: “Done is better than perfect” is a Scott Allen quote.

        Cheers Chris D

        PS – Any hints or good eg. videos for a “Tall Tale” contest?

        • John Zimmer says:

          Thanks, Chris. Much appreciated. As for Tall Tales, it is the one contest in which I have never participated. In fact, I have never even seen one. But if you Google “How to win a Tall Tales contest” as I did just now, a lot of stuff pops up. You might find something there. Good luck!


  3. Terry (TDK) says:

    Well said (again) John. So many times we (mainly me) speakers fall into the trap of practising, tweaking, perfecting a speech or presentation so long, that we become afraid to release it, fearing something isn’t right. Worse, sometimes we talk ourselves out of it, don’t deliver when we are suppose to and bail. A speech is meant to “take flight” and take on its own life – like a child leaving home. That’s what good about competing in a speech contest. Despite everything, you know you MUST deliver. The audience has come from afar to hear YOU. Well Said ! Thanks.

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