by Tina Fey

Hardcover, 2011




New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2011.


From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon, comedian Tina Fey reveals all, and proves that you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

Media reviews

Only the American comic Tina Fey could get away with such a revelation-free 'memoir'.
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But Fey’s memoir is wholly cleansed of any real darkness. It preempts any probing into real frailties and flaws. Of course, this is the point; it is designed to disarm. Neurosis makes Bossypants funny (and it is very funny), but it is fueled by reflexive self-deprecation instead of real reflection.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Magatha
Tina Fey's book is sharp, funny, and perceptive. I really appreciated her recounting of her TV and Second City experiences. Lots of other reviewers have quoted some hilarious excerpts. One of my favorites:

"I have observed that women, at least in comedy, are labeled 'crazy' after a certain age...I've known older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they're all 'crazy'.

"I have a suspicion - and hear me out, 'cause this is a rough one - I have a suspicion that the definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f*** her anymore...."

This is harsh, accurate stuff, which she then follows by mentioning that Betty White is an exception "because people still want to have sex with her". Tina Fey is very funny.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
Yes, it was funny! And mildly feminist, of the “can’t change structural inequalities so just say fuck ‘em and be funny anyway” variety. I liked the rules for managing people, including “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” That reminded me of [personal profile] cesperanza’s great post from a couple of months back and the TED talk by Sheryl Sandburg she linked to.

As Ces says (and this isn’t totally off-topic for the review, because actually Ces is a lot like Fey as a writer, only Ces has sharper edges because she doesn’t have to (1) deal with a bunch of other people to produce her output or (2) be edited by corporate overlords who occasionally want you to tone it down a bit): “[Sandburg says] ‘Don't Leave Before You Leave,’ which is to say, she advises women not to begin scaling back/withdrawing from work on the idea that you might have children before you actually have children. This is good advice for any number of reasons: hers is because once you start to withdraw, work becomes less interesting, and then it's much less compelling to return to; I would add that 1) it also might take longer to have children than you think, for various reasons, or you might never have children at all and; 2) because the longer and more engaged you are WHILE at work, the more power you might have later when you have children and could USE some power and; 3) men phone it in all the fucking time and they still call it FULL TIME WORK.” From her writing, Fey took that advice. She always knew her job was interesting and works to raise her child (I understand she’s expecting another) as an important part of her life, along with her career, despite the incessant cultural messages that she’s got to be fucking up both child and job in so doing. Fey comes off as warm, neurotic, and overall the kind of person you want telling stories at parties.
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LibraryThing member katiekrug
If you are at all interested in reading this, do yourself a favor and don’t. Please, instead, listen to it on audio narrated by Ms. Fey herself. It is an absolute delight – very funny, of course, but also topical, timeless and profound in many ways.
LibraryThing member TheBentley
With sincere apologies to my other friends, many of whom are lovely people who have done wonderful things for me, I have to announce that Tina Fey is now my very best friend. While we don't agree on everything, we do agree on most things and, more importantly, we can laugh hysterically about the things we do not agree on. I listened to this audiobook in my car over a two-week period and I often laughed aloud alone in my car--well, not really alone because I always had the sense that Tina Fey was actually there with me, which is the real test of a memoir, especially one on audiobook. Also, it's not as if you're simply being treated to a stand-up routine (I've laughed aloud at many pure comedy albums). The book has political weight and personal substance--if this is a stand-up routine, it has more in common with George Carlin than Eddie Murphy. It helps, of course, that I am the perfect target audience for Tina Fey--a Generation X woman who grew up loving Star Trek and amateur theatre--but I suspect there are enough of us out there to keep this book on the best-seller list easily into the next decade--and we should.… (more)
LibraryThing member Carmenere
I used to like Tina Fey. I purposely tuned in to Saturday Night Live because I enjoyed her saucy yet intellectual, amusing and often biting skits. With co-anchor Jimmy Fallon, Ms. Fey often delivered non-sensical news with deadpan hilarity. I had considered her the thinking woman’s comic. Yes, I used to like Tina Fey. Now, after listening to the audio version of her new memoir, Bossypants, I LOVE HER! She is a woman of the new millennium. Fey balances her work with her family and finds the humor in her busy life, such as, trying to film a segment of her show, 30 Rock, with Oprah while attempting to find the birthday supplies and gifts she needs to host her daughter’s birthday party the next day. Her audio seems to be an honest recollection of stories from her childhood, college years, break into the entertainment business and her foray into parenthood. Along the way she offers advice that many woman and men will nod their heads to in agreement or laugh out loud at with knowing familiarity. I consider it a good lighthearted read. A little rough language, just in case you’re listening to the audio version in your car with your kid, as I was.

Would I recommend it………………….Yes, and have a pleasant tomorrow!
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LibraryThing member A_Reader_of_Fictions
Tina Fey's Bossypants pretty much swept every category it was part of in the Audie Awards. As such, I had pretty incredibly high expectations, only made higher by my immense respect for Tina Fey. I love 30 Rock and think she's hilarious. Imagine my disappointment to find that I really feel meh about her audiobook, even though I got to listen to her reading it to me.

Basically, I just didn't find this particularly funny, even though it's clearly intended to be. The funniest part was probably one of the included SNL sketches. I maybe laughed out loud once or twice. Two of the five discs not only didn't made me laugh, but irritated me. I guess it felt a bit like Fey was trying too hard, and the end result wasn't funny.

Bossypants would have benefited from more of a distinct narrative ARC. Despite the title, it's not really about leadership or work, though it pretends to be. It's more like an overview of chapters of Tina Fey's life. When she switches from one topic to another, there is no transition. It's just BOOM we're talking about this now. It's very distracting and uneven. The topics basically break down like this:

Disc 1: Scenes from Tina's Youth
Disc 2: Improv
Disc 3: SNL
Disc 4: 30 Rock
Disc 5: Babies

Learning more about the inner works of the entertainment industry interested me, so the middle of the audiobook was enjoyable enough. That last disc basically made me want to hurl the audiobook out the window, but then I would have had to pay the library for it, and that shit's expensive. I kid you not that the ENTIRE last disc was about babies and breast milk. If you made a list of things that I have no interest in those would be near the top with football and hearing about old people's medical problems.

Keeping this short, rather than being a bigger Tina Fey fan at the end of this audiobook, I'm less interested in her than I was. Tons of people have loved this, though, so who knows. Maybe if you'd not placed Tina Fey on a nerd goddess pedestal it's better.
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LibraryThing member 391
I loved this memoir. Tina Fey is hilarious, of course, but she's also painfully honest at times. And I always appreciate a woman who can stand up to the male industry leaders and tell them to go "shit in [their] hat". Bossypants is such a great read, and hysterically funny while also being super truthful. I thought one of my favorite moments is when young Tina realized that she used her gay friends like accessories, instead of having a reciprocal relationship with them. She's incisive and yet positive, and I really enjoyed her behind-the-scenes commentary on some of the most famous moments in SNL and 30 Rock. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone in the whole world.… (more)
LibraryThing member KarenBall
Bwaahahahahahahahahahahhaaaaaa! I have not laughed that hard in YEARS!
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Bossypants is generating buzz for good reason. Tina Fey rocks. Her ability to laugh at herself while making a point about the state of society or our current culture is as refreshing as it is hilarious. Expecting nothing more than a few good stories and some great jokes, I was surprised to find Ms. Fey sharing advice on being a leader, managing others, and being a working mother in today's cutthroat society. While a majority of the readers will not be able to relate to some of Ms. Fey's stories about dealing with actors or working on television shows, her advice crosses all areas of business, making it a welcome addition to an already excellent story.

In Bossypants, Ms. Fey debunks myths of working mothers and the trappings of stardom. She takes great pains to point out how she is just like everyone else, with the same insecurities, skin and weight problems, and family issues that we all have. Granted, she is also more successful, funnier, and wealthier than I will ever be, but that's besides the point. The fact is that even though she is successful and supremely funny, she also has a point to make about being a woman and the traps into which women tend to fall thanks to societal pressure or custom. Much in the same way Ms. Fey was able to draw attention to the idea of sexism in the previous presidential race through an absolutely hilarious skit, she uses her humor to draw attention to female sabotage, pressure to fit a cultural norm, and other timely topics. In spite of all the jokes, Ms. Fey's ultimate point is timely and much-needed.

There should be a disclaimer on this novel. One should not listen to Bossypants when in a meeting or in situations where distractions are a bad idea. Case in point, I was listening to it while working and had to choke back the audible laughter for fear of scaring my co-workers or causing them to think I had finally had a mental breakdown. Instead, I suffered in silence, laughing inaudibly so hard I had tears streaming down my face. (If any co-workers happened to walk past when this occurred, then they still probably thought I had that mental breakdown but because I wasn't making a huge, noisy scene, they let me go.) The best part was that I laughed, a lot. Whether it was over a joke, a scene, or even one little sentence, Ms. Fey's success as a comedic writer definitely shines as she turns the pen towards herself.

As a narrator, Ms. Fey is one of the best I've yet enjoyed hearing. I felt like I was sitting across from her as she was sharing her story with me. While listeners do not have the visual cues to mark asides or sarcasm, she speaks in such a way that the listener has no doubts as to when Ms. Fey's sarcastic side has made an appearance. She also incorporates audio of some of her more famous SNL sketches, as well as her own interpretation of her co-workers' voices, which only enhances the audio experience. Any time I can get the opportunity to listen to or re-watch my favorite SNL skit ever, the first time she ever debuted her Sarah Palin impersonation, it is a good day.

For those who doubted it, Bossypants truly is deserving of the hype. It is not glitzy or glamorous. Ms. Fey does not spill dark secrets about her fellow cast mates or Hollywood friends. Rather, she shares herself with her audience - an honest portrait of a supremely talented woman who worked hard to achieve her success in spite of all the odds stacked against her. The fact that she makes her audience laugh while doing so is just an added bonus.
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LibraryThing member JechtShot
Bossypants is Tina Fey's comedic memoir describing her life from childhood theater nerd to her current status as producer/star of 30 Rock nerd. If you have the opportunity to listen to this on Audiobook, I would highly recommend going that route. Who better to tell Tina Fey's humorous escapades than Tina Fey! I think this book may be appreciated more by women, as many of her stories revolve around experiences that a only a woman could understand. Not saying the male species will not laugh out loud quite a bit, but lets face it, there are some things men will never quite get. Highly recommended for fans of Tina Fey.… (more)
LibraryThing member foggidawn
Bossypants is a funny and occasionally poignant memoir. I feel like I am the last person in the world to pick this up; I've seen so many other reviews for it. I enjoyed some parts of this book more than others -- since I don't watch Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock, the chapters dealing specifically with those shows were maybe a little less interesting for me than for fans of either show. However, I did love the chapters about Fey's family life and her early years in summer theatre and improv, and I found her amusing, if not always laugh-out-loud funny, throughout. I listened to the audiobook, assuming that "read by the author" would be a plus in this case. It was, though the production quality wasn't always what I would expect -- there was a slight echo in a couple of places, and when Fey lowered her voice for asides, I had trouble catching her words. But other than that, this was a fun listen and brightened up my driving time.… (more)
LibraryThing member bleached
Easily the funniest book I have ever read. Along with one of the most inspiring. Tina Fey has always been one of my favorite actresses, writers, and producers. Her autobiography is an insight into this incredible comedian's life and background as well as her extraodinarily humble nature.

To sum it up, best autobiography EVER.… (more)
LibraryThing member knitwit2
First, let me say that I really like Tina Fey. I think she is funny on "30 Rock", I really enjoyed "Date Night", in fact I saw it twice. I think she provided much comic relief to the torture that was/is Sarah Palin. But this book - Nope. Others, like Ms. Fey should be warned that writing for a television sit-com and writing a book are much different. She did not come across on paper as well on she does on screen. I laughed a few times, but sadly those laughs weren't worth the price of the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member klburnside
I liked this book way more than I thought I would. I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was fun to hear Tina Fey reading it. I'm fairly hard to please when it comes to humor, and while I wasn't often laughing aloud while listening, I still enjoyed it. Fey's intelligence is very apparent, and I liked her social commentaries and how she addresses genuine and serious real life issues through comedy.… (more)
LibraryThing member detailmuse
Bossypants is Tina Fey’s memoir of growing up (“how to raise an achievement-oriented, drug-free, adult virgin”), being a nerd, being a woman. It’s about writing comedy, being the boss, being Sarah Palin -- all with inside looks at Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. I listened on audio (read very fast by the author) -- clever, funny, I would listen again or maybe even read it, so as to be able to savor passages. I liked Tina Fey well enough before but I'm a fan now.… (more)
LibraryThing member StoutHearted
Hilarious from start to finish. Tina's self-depreciatory humor exposes her gloriously geeky life (complete with gloriously geeky photos) as an awkward child growing up outside of Philly, to awkward Power Boss/Mom in the Big Apple. Those looking for a salacious tell-all about famous people she's run in with may be disappointed. Fey remains classy (and perhaps refraint from biting the industry that feeds her) by alluding only vagely to unpleasant behavior witnessed from others. Instead, she admits to her own meltdowns and catty behavior brought on by a stressful job, while putting it all in perspective. There is name-dropping, but she has nothing but good things to say about those she names, such as Lorne Michaels, Alec Baldwin, and Amy Poehler. Hilarious anecdotes about each pepper the memoir. Fey also gives credit where credit is due, and singles out the writers of "30 Rock," pointing out which memorable lines were of their creation.

I was a fan of Fey's before reading this book, but now I have a whole new appreciation of her and of the issues that women in the entertainment industry have gone through.
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LibraryThing member les121
Bossypants is a smart, hilarious memoir - pretty much exactly what I would expect from such a smart, hilarious woman. Fey’s insights into life and womanhood are clever and witty, yet thoughtful. I thoroughly enjoyed her stories about growing up, working on Saturday Night Live, and becoming a parent. Fey’s narration of the audiobook is, of course, outstanding; be prepared to find yourself laughing out loud every few minutes. Overall, Bossypants is one of the most entertaining and interesting memoirs I’ve read (or listened to), and I highly recommend it.… (more)
LibraryThing member jpporter
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are fantastically funny women - particularly when they are together, playing off each other. I was eager to read this book to get a deeper sense of who Tina Fey was, and I come away satisfied somewhat.

The book gives the reader a series of snapshots of Ms. Fey's development as a comedian, but really only from the perspective of the individual steps she went through. If you're looking for a deeper insight into who Tina Fey is, though, the book comes up short. I got the feeling the book was written to take advantage of her popularity, rather than to either give us something funny or insightful.… (more)
LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
A series of essays tracing the life and career of Tina Fey. Fey is a great writer and humorist and her voice comes through. Some of the best essays have already appeared in the New Yorker. I especially liked her honesty and humor in the face of her repeat motherhood vs mega-hit TV show conundrum.
LibraryThing member Cariola
Neither humor nor memoirs are my usual reading choices. But if you like Tina Fey, you'll love Bossypants. It's half memoir, half stand-up routine, which is why it may fare better on audio, read by Ms. Fey herself. As other readers have mentioned, it is a bit chronologically disjointed, as stand-up comedy often is, but I had no trouble following along. Fey regales us with stories of growing up half Greek/half Irish in a small, WASP-ish Pennsylvania town; her college days and first loves (including one she refers to as "Handsome Robert Wuhl," or "HRW"); her breaks with Second City, 'Saturday Night Live,' and '30 Rock'; her honeymoon on a cruise ship that catches fire; and the joys and icks of motherhood. She's tactful enough not to bash any of the SNL guest hosts and gives us insights into working with some of them, including Sylvester Stallone and Sarah Palin. Having just finished a massive Trollope novel, this was a fluffy, delicious piece of cake. Recommended for Fey fans; not sure how well it would sit with others.… (more)
LibraryThing member MickyFine
Tina Fey's memoir is a brisk and witty recounting of the many experiences that have informed her development into one of the most influential women in comedy. The writing is largely anecdotal although roughly organized chronologically. Her writing is filled with humour that often made me chuckle out loud but also provides her observations on serious issues such as the ongoing debate over women in comedy, body image and Photoshop, sexism, and being a working mother. The book primarily focuses on her life from high school onwards as she participated in community youth theatre, her time at Second City in Chicago, SNL, 30 Rock, and her brief return to SNL for the Sarah Palin sketches. A fast and funny read with occasional flashes of real insight, Fey's book is thoroughly worth a look.… (more)
LibraryThing member brodeurbunny30
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Usually I avoid books by celebrities cause more often than not, I don't really care about what really happened at hip parties in Hollywood or how they had such a tough life breaking into 'the biz' or how they met all these other celebrities at all of these other cookie cutter famous people events.

Tina Fey, on the other hand, is a celebrity who through her phenomenal work on SNL and 30 Rock actually made me *CARE* about her world, her life, and her views. She's a woman who I believe actually has good opinions that should be shared. (Her views on women in the media hit home like they should I really do hope people take away the important lessons learned throughout years of pioneering TV segments for a future generation of female comedians)

Overall, her laugh-lie-jokey-honesty style of writing is hilarious and anecdotal without being mundane or repetitive. It's only a snapshot of her best tidbits (I'm guessing anyways, since it wasn't a completist style biography that could translate into a docudrama for the ages) but it was meaningful and difficult to put down.

Anyone who loves her style of humour, 30 rock, or Lorne Michaels and the world of SNL will probably find great enjoyment in it. Otherwise, it probably comes off as strangely disjointed and punch-liney.

A must read for comedy lovers of both genders.
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LibraryThing member pokylittlepuppy
3.5 stars, the most emotionally difficult of book ratings. It's cold to round down, and doormatty to round up. These are the problems I've got, internet.

Anyway, I was so happy to read this, and enjoyed it a ton. I looked forward to picking it up all the time. I was home sick a couple days and read and read between naps. It's rather perfect for this purpose. And a really good subway book. Though the Planned Parenthood story made me laugh so hard I got self-conscious.

Um. Is it weird, though, if I wish some of the book had been funnier, though? I mean it isn't not funny. Gracious. Don't think it. It's just... I don't know, I don't read a lot of humor (humor reading pedigree: I uh, have never once been interested in picking up a single David Sedaris book), and I don't read a lot of showbiz person book deal products (young adult-level font size and large inline photographs, hey?), so I found the genre made me a little nervous. Because you can tell the author is nervous. Is this a book yet?? Did I do it?

So, the material is slight, and occasionally pieces are way too short or even uncreative (answering hate mail? is this Dooce?), but clearly it was completely a ton of fun to trot through. There are tons of jokes, a lot of insight, and some great stories she'd otherwise have no reason to tell, and it seemed she enjoyed telling these most. I loved the YMCA, the college non-date, getting left by her dad at Pathmark. And I was really, really pleased that the lengthy chapter about the start of both 30 Rock and her Sarah Palin career was so charming and non-indulgent. Loved reading that.

It's also sweet how she expresses her appreciation for parenthood and for women. I like her characterizations of the kind of people who work in comedy with her. (Guys pee in cups, women are super nice. Pretty much how I want to imagine it.) Probably the coolest subject is when she talks straightforwardly about writing, and why improv is a life philosophy. That's not a new idea if you're an improv fan, but a good warm one all the same. And I like this, about how to write: "You can't be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, overthinking it." It's true. Lots of us just never put our damn butts in the water.

For the record I just love that cover photo.

Thanks to Meg; this was a perfect birthday present.
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LibraryThing member davadog13
A great sort-of-memoir from Tina Fey. It's sprinkled with great career anecdotes about SNL, 30 Rock, and the oddities of portraying Sarah Palin on tv. It's obvious throughout why Tina is a comedy writer, she drops hilarious lines throughout the book like it was nothing. I did feel like it lost steam in the last 3 or 4 chapters (Tina herself asked readers what she should do with her last five minutes), but even so, I enjoyed the rest of it so much that five stars was the obvious rating. It's right up there with Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up," and it's a really should read for any and all actor/comedy type folks.… (more)
LibraryThing member elliepotten
I'd initially decided not to bother with this book, even though it sounded funny, because I haven't really seen any of Tina Fey's work and I thought that might exclude me from great swathes of what she was writing about. Then I read a friend's glowing review of the audiobook and decided to give the paper version a try after all. The blurb on the back made me laugh, which seemed to bode well! Happily Fey has the same knack - like Caitlin Moran and Charlie Brooker - of making her writing accessible and hilarious even when the reader hasn't seen the sketches or shows being referenced, and I ended up really enjoying the insight into things like photoshoots and TV production, even when I wasn't familiar with the end results. There's also plenty about TV comedy, family and being a woman in the public eye, which I found thought-provoking and relatable even as it was making me smile. An easy, interesting and very enjoyable read for the summer.… (more)



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