Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a hit for Netflix, but who deserves more of the credit for that success, writer and co-creator Tina Fey or breakout star Tituss Burgess? The pair set out to decide who the real talent is at the annual MCC Theater Miscast Gala on Monday, as Fey joined Burgess on stage for a surprise duet.
Appropriately, Fey and Burgess performed the big-band number “You’re Nothing Without Me” from City of Angels — a song in which a screenplay writer argues with the protagonist he’s written about who is more important. Like the characters in the song, Fey has written Burgess’ two major television roles — Titus Andromedon in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and D’Fwan on 30 Rock — while Burgess has delivered memorable performances as both characters.
The writer and actor traded barbs with lyrics like “Your brain only holds thoughts I put in there” and “Go home and soak your dentures.” As a trained Broadway performer, Burgess easily hit the high notes, and as a trained improv comedian, Fey punched up the lyrics by making fun of Burgess’s recently launched brand of wine: “You have no shame; Pinot by Titus?”
Of course, the performance was all in good fun, and it ended with a big hug between Fey and Burgess.
Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt premieres on Netflix on April 15.