Book Review: Bossypants

 ImageBossypants by Tina Fey

I was a little startled by the cover of this book when I picked it up, because although I had seen a thumbnail of the cover countless times on Amazon, I had failed to realize that Tina Fey’s head is photo-shopped onto the man’s body. It’s a funny image, especially considering that the comedian talks about what men think is funny vs. what women think is funny, trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated world, and the pros and cons of photo-shop. One could say that the cover sums the book up perfectly.

In Bossypants, Tina Fey tells the world the true story behind her growing up years (including how she got the scar on her face), her time as head writer at SNL, creating and starring in 30 Rock, and her much talked about portrayal of Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign.

I found myself carving extra time out of my schedule to read this book and finished it in a couple of days. For me, it was very interesting to hear the stories about backstage life at SNL circa during the late 90s and early 2000s because that is when I watched the show. The best thing about this book isn’t Fey’s musings on whether or not a restaurant with toilets for seats would be a viable business venture (pg. 193) but rather her insightful comments on gender roles in show business.

During her first week at SNL, Fey remembers Cheri Oteri “being past over for [Chris] Kataan-in-drag” for the part of Adrian (Sylvester Stallone’s character’s wife). As head writer during her time at the show, Fey changed the way people viewed women in comedy. She writes “By the time I left nine years later…nobody would have thought for a second that a dude in drag would be funnier than Amy [Poehler], Maya [Rudolph], or Kristen [Wiig].” For an example of how things are changing in the world of comedy, take a look at funny movies over the last couple of years. Bridesmaids, for example, features an almost exclusively female cast. Can you think of a popular “all female cast comedy” from ten years ago?

Tina Fey tells her story in an effortless way. As I read it, I could imagine her taking few minutes each day (because between working on 30 Rock and raising a toddler, a few minutes is probably all she would be lucky to get) to write a couple of pages of this memoir. When she was finished, I could see her emailing it to her publisher, and it coming out in book form, sans editing. I know that the likelihood of this is not great, but her style is so conversational and laid back, she makes it seem easy, like writing a book is just another item to check off on her impressive to-do list (which would also include writing a scene for an upcoming guest star for 30 Rock and trimming her daughter’s fingernails).

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 lupines


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