This season, Liz has plenty to continue to be neurotic about. She's serious about adopting a child. She still deals with her egomaniacal boss, Jack (Alec Baldwin). And she's dating.
"She's going to have some romantic endeavors. She has one with Steve Martin — it's pretty rad, right? — he plays an eccentric, agoraphobic millionaire friend of Jack's," Fey says.
Liz also has a brief relationship with Peter Dinklage. "He plays a really together guy who works at the U.N.," Fey explains. "She's trying to not blow it, and guess what happens?"
Like any great comedian, Fey has no qualms about looking foolish on screen. "Old girl will make fun of herself in a heartbeat," McBrayer says.
In an industry in which a woman can be either gorgeous or funny but rarely both, she's the rare exception. Fey can star in her own American Express ads, chasing Martin Scorsese through an airport, and rock a fancy David Meister frock on the red carpet. But she's still a comedy nerd, not entirely at home in the spotlight and still most comfortable in her broken-in Dansko clogs, which she slips into on set when the camera stops rolling.
And therein perhaps lies the key to Fey's appeal. Even when she was first garnering attention for her writing on Saturday Night Live, Fey came across not as a ham, but as the smart, polite girl next door — even as she gently layered on the sarcasm and wit.
"She deals with (fame) the same way she deals with everything else. She just works harder," says Lorne Michaels, executive producer of "SNL," where Fey became the show's first female head writer. "She's strong and she's smart, which is a very appealing combination. You trust her way of looking at the world. There's nothing strident about her. She knows who she is."
She's still the same old Tina who is obsessed with finding the humor in oddball, everyday things, Carlock says. "Having started working with her at 'SNL,'" he says, "she has the same interest and the same desire to find that funny angle on everything. She hasn't changed."
Even when she's wiped out, Fey's absurdity meter stays on. Is she ever tempted to carry her acting Emmy around with her, like a talisman, and shove it in people's faces?
"The city is de-gentrifying." She pauses. "Someone would mug me for it."