Tuesday, January 17, 2012
By Tina Fey
New York, Little, Brown, 2011
277 pages Memoir
My husband thinks that the best part of the Sarah Palin nomination as Vice President was Tina Fey’s portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live. If you, like he, had no idea who Tina Fey was before those sketches, you certainly knew who she was afterwards. As I was reading Bossypants, Fey’s memoir, he kept asking me if I had gotten to the part about Sarah Palin yet.
Bossypants is a very funny book, but it is also very human, filled with self-deprecating humor. You have got to like Tina Fey. She is a woman who has risen through the ranks of comedy—admittedly a male-dominated business and succeeded beyond even her wildest expectations.
Tina was a good girl who grew up in a nice suburban home. She makes no bones about her physical attributes and how they compare with what society expects. She writes about her social awkwardness as a kid and how theatre saved her. I found myself nodding all the way through the section about the community theatre she worked at in the summers she was at college. My daughter had similar experiences. Fey says, “We should all strive to make our society more like Summer Showtime: Mostly a meritocracy, despite some vicious backstabbing. Everyone gets a spot in the chorus. Bring white shorts from home.”
Following college she toured with Second City, met and married her husband Jeff before moving to New York to write for Saturday Night Live, eventually becoming head writer. After several years, she became writer, producer and actor in her own series, 30 Rock which is in its 6th season. By all means, she is a tough lady, but mostly in Bossypants she comes across as a stressed-out mother, wife, and executive just trying to get through the days. She admits that doing all these things are hard work and she probably couldn’t do it without her supportive husband and the nanny. (She has a hard time calling her the nanny. It seems too upper-class for her.) The chapter about the introduction of the Sarah Palin character is counterbalanced by shooting an episode of 30 Rock with Oprah Winfrey and buying napkins and plates for her daughter’s third birthday party.
Laced throughout the book are discussions about modern womanhood—breastfeeding, maxipads, being skinny as opposed to being overweight, and being intimidated by the babysitter (oops—nanny). One reviewer says that Tina Fey “has carved out a rare position as a satirical authority on contemporary ladyhood.”
The best part of Tina Fey is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Life is funny; life is ironic; life is better with Photoshop. The reader only has to look at the endorsements on the back cover, including “Totally worth it.”—Trees” and “I Hope that’s not really the cover. That’s really going to hurt sales.”—Don Fey, Father of Tina Fey.”
Additionally, she doesn’t work too hard to relate with her reader—the relationship just comes naturally. Nearly everything is light, enjoyable and fun because Tina Fey is very real and very much like the rest of us—only funnier. My favorite chapter is about her daughter Alice bringing home a library book about My Working Mom, in which the Mom is a witch. “I told her that I didn’t like it that the mommy in the book was a witch. That it hurt my feelings. And she looked at me matter-of-factly and said, ‘Mommy, I can’t read. I thought it was a Halloween book.’” It is easy to see why Bossypants was at the top of the best seller lists: Every working mother in America can read that and relate.
The book’s title was Fey’s husband’ s idea. “At first it was just ‘Bossy’ with an exclamation mark, because of my musical theater background,” he says. She fleshed out the phrase ‘bossypants.’ “You wanted to own it,” he says, turning to her and adding: “Bossy! It’s a good thing.”
Here are a couple of good reviews: