I had really been looking forward to reading Bossypants. I have loved Tina Fey for many years, and she has been on my husband’s laminated list for years, so I though it was about time to size up the competition. That being said, my husband was a bit creeped out by the cover – apparently lovely Tina Fey with giant hairy man arms does not a fantasy romance make, so she may now be off the list.
Bossypants was widely reviewed by CBR III readers last year, so I read the book with moderate expectations. I admit had difficulty not reading the book in the voice of her 30 Rock character Liz Lemon. Of course, Fey is a person, not a character, but portions of the book seemed to be outright comedy sketches so it was hard to differentiate sometimes. The introduction was the most Lemonish, I think, and it made me cackle over my lunch break a few times. The remainder of the book was less funny (with the exception of her “swarthy baby”), but was still largely amusing, self-deprecating, and fairly relatable. Much of Fey’s life has been normal and non-glamourous, and she seems pretty comfortable with her awkward and nerdy nature. I know that Fey wrote her memoir carefully, carefully presenting the information she wanted to share, but her honesty about things like her long held virginity and some distress over whether or not to have a second child was kind of heartwarming.
I found the background information on how sketch comedy troupes and Saturday Night Live work interesting, and was particularly excited to learn about how Fey’s Sarah Palin impression was developed. The first Palin sketch she did was the first episode of SNL I had stayed up for in many years, and it was one of the funniest and pointed sketches I have ever seen. It feels like it all happened quite a while ago, but Fey is careful to point out how Palin and Clinton were treated in the media is not necessarily all that different from how women are treated in comedy and the entertainment industry as a whole. She notes that the situation seems to be improving, but suggests that when people ask how how she likes being the boss, it is a both a responsibility that weighs on her and also is a question people would not ask of a man.
The book was a quick and smart read as well as being fairly amusing. I do not often read memoirs, particularly not by comedians or actors, so I cannot compare it to any similar books, but I did enjoy reading it.