WASHINGTON - If last night around 6 p.m. you found yourself missing the squirrely clerk at your local Barnes and Noble, or noticed a dearth of bespectacled grad students at the corner Starbucks, or wondered why the regional office of your favorite feminist organization had shut down early for the day, the answer is simple: they went to see Tina Fey.
The every-woman comedy writer, "30 Rock" creator, LGBT idol and occasional Sarah Palin impersonator held a forum to promote her new book "Bossy Pants," at the 6th and I Historic Synagogue in Chinatown.
Although she may not relish the comparison, Fey has more in common with Justin Bieber than her short stature, delicate features and shaggy brown hair.
Like her teeny-bopper counterpart, Fey also plays sellout crowds.
The 800 or so seats for her performance were snatched up online in less than 12 minutes.
"I'm really just here to see Tina," whispered the self-identified "professional gay" seated next to me wearing a peel-and-stick media credential.
He wasn't alone.
The second the blazer-clad Fey stepped through the door, her anxious audience went berserk. They screamed, they yelled, they waived her glossy hardcover over their heads and clutched the yuppie strangers at their side.
The squeals of delight were so high-pitched, that I swear somewhere in South America a flock of bats veered off course.
Even from the tragic little press seats -- which were in the second to last row and behind a pretty big pole -- it was easy to see the relaxed appeal of one of comedy's busiest and most successful women.
"I am the Madonna of being overwhelmed," she said soon after taking her seat in response to some route question from the moderator about managing to manage it all.
For all intents and purposes, the generic co-host could have been Watson the "Jeopardy" robot.
The audience only had eyes for Fey.
The highlight of the evening came during the in the audience participation. Fey opened it up for [significantly better] questions, and -- if you will forgive a catholic metaphor for a Jewish venue -- the masses lined up like pilgrims for communion.
Saint Tina addressed every inquiry with her trademark charm and patience. She didn't scoff at the offensive, the accusatory, or even the stupid. Her snarky one liners -- and let's-get-real anecdotes gave her throngs of adoring fans exactly what they wanted:
A real-life Liz Lemon, who you just want to kidnap, chain to your couch and feed discount Mexican cheese curls while watching re-runs of "30 Rock".
Tina Fey may be tiny, but she packs a serious comedic punch. She was a punning powerhouse from start to finish, and her audience was more than happy to go home bruised.
The following are some highlights from the Q & A, which are accurate but paraphrased, because it is difficult to take notes while laughing to the point of urination:
Since you are speaking in Washington, what would you lobby congress for if you had the chance?
To make Alec Baldwin to stay in show business.
Strangest comedy moment?
Hiring my own drag impersonator.
Spoiler alerts for next season?
Lessons from improve to be applied at the workplace?
Learn burns for hecklers and deploy them on your co-workers.
Will Liz Lemon ever find "the one?"
In true Washington form, she took the 5th.
If you could go anywhere in the world and party with Beyonce and Jay-Z . . . could I go with you?
Yes. Stonehenge. Barbeque.
I love your lady blazer. Have you ever considered designing a line of them for HSN?
Blazers are great because if I had to do events like this with my arms out, I would then have to do things like push-ups. [she gestures wildly, audience laughs like hyenas on nitris]
Who would play you in a movie?
Pirates or Ninjas?
Pirates. They seem easier to fight.
On an Alec Baldwinless "30 Rock"?
I can't see the show without him, but NBC wants me to try and the people who depend on the show for their livelihood want me to try, so I'm trying.
Will the program end in 2012?
Up to Alec Baldwin and NBC.
Running for office?
No way. It's for suckers.
Preview a joke for next season?
Tracy Jordan comes to Lemon and says, "Can I borrow a cup of sugar, I am trying to get a humming bird to drink out of my penis." I guess it makes no sense out of context.
On the balance between motherhood and show business?
[A polite answer emphasizing how men are never asked that question].
If you could ask Charlie Sheen anything?
Can I have $4 million?