By Lydia Holt
If I weren’t the sleep-deprived mother of a sick child, I probably would have stayed up late into the night to finish Bossypants by Tina Fey all in one go. As it was, I had to swallow my guffaws so as not to wake the aforementioned sick child. Bossypants is equal parts how-to (be successful in a male dominated work place, that is) and memoir sprinkled with life lessons and feminism, all cleverly interspersed with jokes and Tinaliciousness, like this shout-out to my home town in her beauty tips section:
“As you age, you may want to pay someone to shoot lasers at your face. If you are a fancy lady and live in a fancy urban center like New York or Dallas-Fort Worth…” (emphasis mine).
Part of me knows she’s insinuating that my dear Heart of North Texas Metroplex is in fact not an urban center, but the fact that she picked it out of all the other mid-sized middle American cities in the U.S. warms the cockles of my heart. I had to include it in this review.
She has proven she is a funny and witty writer through her work on sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, skillfully lampooning that week’s news headlines; on the NBC comedy 30 Rock, where she has turned her experience working on SNL into a show of her own; and in writing the screenplay for Mean Girls. What I didn’t expect was the revelation that her father was the Bernie Mac of the Silent Generation. She doesn’t put it exactly that way, but you’ll understand that about Don Fey if you read the book. I won’t spoil it for you by going into further detail, but with a Bernie Mac type as her father, there’s no wonder she grew up to be one of the hardest working comediennes in the business.
From her childhood in a suburb of Philadelphia to becoming head writer of Saturday Night Live and creator of 30 Rock, to motherhood and agonizing over whether or not to have a second child, Tina Fey lets the reader into her mind’s inner workings, revealing what she thinks has and has not worked in her life so far. Being a “mean girl” doesn’t work, but doing her own thing and not caring who likes it works (to the tune of 10 Primetime Emmys). Fey expertly exposes the absurdity of contemporary life:
“Luxury cruises were designed to make something unbearable—a two-week transatlantic crossing–seem bearable. There’s no need to do it now. There are planes. You wouldn’t take a vacation where you ride on a stagecoach for two months but there’s all-you-can-eat shrimp. You wouldn’t take a vacation where you have an old-timey appendectomy without anesthesia while steel drums play.”And the lessons to be learned from improvisational comedy:
“To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.”
There is also an especially delicious treat in a chapter Fey spends answering mean-spirited Internet posts. Who wouldn’t want to loud talk cowards throwing insults from the safety of cyberspace? It is most satisfying. I sigh just thinking about it.
I had the added pleasure of reading the e-book enhanced edition which includes an audio introduction, an audio chapter read by Tina Fey (featuring her reading script excerpts in which she impersonates the voices of Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan) and bonus pictures not available in print.
Bossypants. I read it. I liked it. I think you’ll like it too.