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.
"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.
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.
Would I recommend it………………….Yes, and have a pleasant tomorrow!
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.
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.
To sum it up, best autobiography EVER.
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.
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.
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.
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.