Oprah: Sarah Palin was introduced to the world on August 29. How soon afterward did you get the call from Lorne Michaels?
Tina: Lorne played it cool, as he always does, and waited until the week of the first show. He called and said, "Think about if you want to impersonate her." I was like, "I'll do a joke about her. I'll do a sketch where I'm myself. I'll do anything except impersonate her!"
Oprah: Why didn't you want to impersonate her?
Tina: Because even when I was at SNL, I didn't do impersonations. I always wanted to be the kind of person who could do them—I always thought they were the coolest thing on the show—but I didn't have any experience.
Oprah: How did Lorne coax you?
Tina: Lorne is very—what's a word besides "sneaky"? He's very laid-back, but then he slowly corners you. He said that even his doorman had mentioned how much I look like Sarah Palin.
Oprah: Sometimes, looking at pictures from the campaign, I had to look twice—was that really her, or was it you? So, when you were finally there onstage impersonating her, were you scared?
Tina: No. I just kept thinking, "I don't work here anymore, so if this ends up being lousy, I told you guys I don't do this." I also felt safe doing it with Amy [Amy Poehler played both Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric in the SNL sketches]. I wouldn't have enjoyed doing it alone, because I never did anything alone on SNL.
Oprah: When I'm on TV, I can sometimes feel when a moment transcends the studio and is transported into people's living rooms. Did you feel that energy? All those people watching and thinking, "Yeah, she's doing it!"
Tina: I joked that I should have opened the show with, "Live from New York...are you happy now?" But yes, I did feel that energy in the first show. I always try to focus on the live audience, though, because if I think about the fact that the show really is going out into the world, then I do start to get nervous.