It’s hard to recall a time when Tina Fey wasn’t filling our TV sets and movie screens with big laughs, but back in 1999, before Saturday Night Live made her a household name and Mean Girls was the stuff of legend and 30 Rock GIFs filled Facebook, Fey was just another comic trying to make a name for herself in the comedy trenches.
Thanks to the magical elves that post videos to YouTube, fans can travel back in time to witness the wonder of a two-woman show called Dratch & Fey, starring Fey and fellow SNL-er Rachel Dratch. The show ran at both Second City and New York’s UCB Theater from 1999-2000, when both women were on the cusp of stardom. Dratch had joined the cast of SNL and Fey had recently been appointed as the head writer of the show, but had not yet moved in front of the camera.
The show itself, much like SNL, was a series of sketches woven together by nothing more than humor. In the clip posted to YouTube, the duo starts by riffing on “theater as social tool” with Dratch becoming Edwina Garth Burnham, a woman’s rights pioneer, while Fey adopts the personality of a modern woman exploring her sexuality. Naturally, big laughs ensue.
The quality of the video isn’t great, as it appears to have been ripped from a VHS tape, but when you get nearly an hour of vintage Dratch and Fey given free rein on stage, you don’t look a YouTube gift horse in the mouth. You just watch.