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Tina Fey says she begged Carson to reprise his 'TRL' role on her new show 'Girls5Eva'

The actor and comedian was TODAY's first in-person guest in Studio 1A since the pandemic began.
/ Source: TODAY

Tina Fey danced her way down the red carpet to an important milestone on TODAY Tuesday.

The writer and comedian became the first in-person guest at Studio 1A on TODAY since the pandemic shut down the U.S. in March 2020. Fey joined Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb to talk about her NBC shows "Girls5Eva," "Mr. Mayor" and more.

The trio couldn't resist a hug before the interview to mark the latest step back to normalcy following such a difficult year.

"I am so honored to be here," Fey said. "I don't know how I got to be this person, but I want to thank all of you guys for keeping all of us outside 1A tethered to reality for the last year and a half.

"Every milestone, when you guys came back together, these were such uplifting moments of optimism for the rest of us, so thank you, and thank you so much for inviting me."

Fey also was basking in the happy news that "Girls5Eva," a comedy about an all-girls group from the '90s reuniting decades later, has been renewed by the Peacock streaming service for a second season. (Peacock is part of TODAY's parent company, NBCUniversal).

Tina Fey on the TODAY show
Tina Fey celebrated with a little dance as she became the first in-person guest in Studio 1A on TODAY since March 2020. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

The first season includes a voice-over cameo from TODAY's Carson Daly, who may pop up in person in the second season if Fey has her way. Carson was a '90s and 2000s music fixture as the host of MTV's hit show "Total Request Live," so he was a natural for the show.

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The showrunners initially tried to cast a Carson look-alike but decided to just go to the man himself.

"We ended up begging Carson to voice over because honestly, Carson, you're iconic, and it doesn't work without you," Fey said on TODAY.

"I wanted to do it in person actually, but with the pandemic, it was impossible," Carson responded.

It was actually Fey's husband, Jeff Richmond, who pushed for the real thing over the look-alike.

Tina Fey on the TODAY show
Fey joined Savannah and Hoda to talk about her NBC shows "Girls5eva" and "Mr. Mayor." Nathan Congleton / TODAY

"We were like, 'What about this guy?' And (my husband's) like, 'No, Carson has piercing blue eyes!'" Fey joked, adding, "Alright buddy."

Fey and Richmond's daughter, Penelope, 9, also has an acting role on the show, which Fey was skittish about at first.

"There was a part for a 9-year-old, and I was like, if we don't let her audition for this, she's going to kill us," Fey quipped. "She auditioned, she put herself on tape, and (show creator) Meredith (Scardino) was like, 'Should we give her the part?' And I was like, 'No, you can't let the boss's kid get the first job they ever auditioned for,' but she did really well."

They cast another child actor from out of state, who ended up not being able to make it work because of the pandemic.

"I was like, 'Penelope you're up,' and she did a great job, and she was super professional," Fey recalled. "For kind of a grim year of distance learning and all that stuff, it was a little treat for her."

Fey was as happy about Penelope's job off-camera as much as her performance.

"I was very, very proud of her because it's one of those moments where you're like, 'You brought all your manners today,'" Fey said. "That's the main thing as a parent. I'm like 'Oh, your manners were lovely.'"

At the end of her time with Savannah and Hoda, Fey then danced right back off the set in celebration of feeling one step closer to getting back to normal.