on April 5, 2011
I enjoy a good memoir. It seems there's always something good to learn from other people's life experiences. And while I'm not a huge Tina Fey fan, I enjoyed her as Sarah Palin on SNL and occasionally watch 30 Rock. So after reading a review of the book, and being without anything to read at the moment, I took a chance and bought Bossypants, and I'm glad I did.
It seemed a little uneven starting out, but quickly transitioned into some very interesting pieces about her early jobs, her work with Second City, and then her transition into writing for SNL and her eventual creation of 30 Rock. Interspersed are stories about growing up and dating, her eventual marriage, and her struggles to balance work and family life, as well as some candid advice for other women on how to make it in a male-dominated industry.
Perhaps what I liked most about the book is that even though there is a lot of self-deprecating (and distancing) humor, my sense in the end was that Fey gave us an honest look at who she is: imperfect, stumbling, but always rising again, persevering, and continuing to do what she loves. I would say the book is well worth reading for any fan of Tina Fey, 30 Rock, or SNL, as well as for any woman who struggles to balance the roles of worker, spouse and mom. It was a good read!
on April 10, 2011
I almost gave this book 5 stars, and it is damn near perfect.
Let's start with the good stuff:
- It's extremely funny. And not just "laugh out loud" funny, but "laugh *so* out loud your spouse asks you to go read in another room because you're keeping him awake" funny. If you enjoy Tina Fey's humor, you'll really appreciate this book. It's damn funny.
- It's (unexpectedly) full of really good advice about how to be a good boss. I mean, maybe I should have gleaned that from the title but I expected it to be more of a comedic autobiography than a sincere look at how to effectively manage people. And she's got some really great thoughts in this book about how to be a leader.
- Where books by other comedians are pretty much only for laughs (see: Chelsea Handler), this book also contains some social critique. And, not in a preachy way - in a very funny way. But Fey raises some excellent questions about how women treat each other, being a working mom, dealing with institutionalized sexism, and other hilarious topics!
I found myself wanting to know a bit more about SNL, or 30 Rock, but she keeps those experiences (and her personal life) at a pretty surface level. It appears to be a very conscious choice, and one I respect; you can tell she doesn't want to be a tell-all kind of person, and she's not interested in being the sort of celebrity that rips her whole life open for all to see.
All-in-all, I loved this book and devoured it in one day (not an easy feat with two preschool-aged kids running around).
My only gripe is that it's a little hard to tell what this book is trying to be. It's part comedy, part biography and part managerial guidance/life lessons. Not that that's a bad combination - it was just a little unexpected. And, at times, felt a little jumpy.
on April 21, 2011
Like most women of my generation, I am a fan of Tina Fey. She is a weekly beacon of joy in a sea of unlikable, unrelatable portrayals of women in the media. So it kills me that I didn't like her book!
1. Her dry, punchy humor is wonderful for writing performances, but I don't think it works well in long format. She's not so much the best story-teller. Rarely did I find myself captivated by anything in the book or wanting to read more, which made me feel like....
2. She's a very reluctant memoir-writer. The tone often made me feel like I was intruding somehow by reading what she wrote. There are points where she outright says she doesn't want to discuss certain events (*perfectly* understandable.) But her stories feel glossed-over and the people she discusses feel liks frameworks of characters.
(I loved the chapter about her father. It felt rich and I totally understood who he was and how he shaped her life. If the rest of the book had been like that, it would've been great.)
Love Tina Fey and I'll continue to watch 30 Rock like a junkie. But it kills me that I'm not recommending this to my friends. (I'm not a total downer: if you want a fun memoir, I'd choose Kathy Griffin's instead... just because I think she's a bit better at crafting a story.)
on April 5, 2011
I read this book in its entirety in under 24 hours (AND I still managed to stick in sleep, work, and 3 squares). This book is perfect for anyone who loves Tina Fey's sarcastic wit. It's an insanely fast read and it literally made me laugh out loud in spots. Granted, if you're not a Fey fan, you probably won't like the bulk of this book. It's no shock-and-awe campaign either; you won't find any secrets here. In essence, this book is exactly what I thought (and hoped) it would be: 280 pages of Feytastic wordage. Fey is quite the wordsmith - no surprise there - and she really can weave a story. Some chunks of the book are stuff you've probably already heard/seen/read - SNL sketch scripts, 30 Rock lines, etc. And if you get the Kindle version some of the graphics outside the regular text will be hard to read (unless I'm just a moron) - but I give this book 5+ stars. Tina Fey is a smart and sassy woman, and her book is no different. I highly recommend it to fans of 30 Rock, SNL, and cake.
on June 13, 2011
Look, I like Tina Fey a lot. I think she's funny and smart and interesting. I just don't think that this book is any of those things. I definitely laughed out loud a couple of times while reading this book, but overall, it felt more like someone threw a bunch of semi-amusing anecdotes together and then hurriedly attempted some weak transition paragraphs. The lack of actual narrative really kept me from enjoying this one. This book is a quick read, but that's about all it has going with it. A perfectly fine airport read, if you kind of want to put your brain on autopilot (ha! airport pun!), but I guess I was hoping for a more insightful memoir.
on April 22, 2011
Last weekend I had the great pleasure of listening to Tina Fey's book Bossypants read by the author herself. Not only is the lady fantastically funny, she's also got something to say. Plus, on the audiobook, she does the Sarah Palin parts in her Sarah Palin voice. And, if you're anything like me, you'd be very interested in Fey's own take on the Palin phenomena and her role in it. Fey isn't writing a straight memoir here. The breakdown is something like this:
46% Celebrity memoir
28% Essay collection
12% Feminist manifesto
9% Stand-up routine
5% Self-help manual
She does cover the major highlights of her life (roots, family, education, career, marriage, motherhood, and miscellany) in a semi-chronological fashion. The book is made up of two dozen or so short chapters, each an essay. Some of the essays are very personal, such as a portrait of her father, or the tale of her disastrous honeymoon. Others were about female empowerment, such as chapters on body image and the fact that women can be just as funny as men.
Speaking of funny... I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that Tina Fey is hilarious. I laughed out loud through this entire book. I'm sure it was all the more amusing coming straight from her mouth. (By the way, I was surprised to learn that she's not a half-bad mimic. She does a passable take on Lorne Michaels, Alec Baldwin, Amy Poehler, and other recognizable friends she quotes within the text.) While some chapters were incidentally funny, a handful of them were loosely disguised comedy bits.
It was amusing the way she kept divorcing herself from celebrity. She spoke about glamorous movies stars as though she hasn't made the lists of Hollywood's most beautiful and powerful. Somehow she's retained an everywoman quality that leaves her relatable and approachable. By the end of this slight book, I felt I knew a lot more about Fey. I liked and respected her even more than I had going in. And I was thoroughly entertained. I can't ask more than that.
on March 12, 2012
I love Tina Fey, and I am a 30 Rock addict. I wanted so much more from this book. I had read a few excerpts online and was under the impression this book would teach me something about becoming a powerful woman in a male-dominated industry. As a writer myself, I wanted to know what it was like to be a writer for a major television show. I also thought it would be genuinely funny. Alas, these topics were skimmed at best--and Fey's humor doesn't seem to translate to nonfiction.
Over half the book contains anecdotes from Fey's childhood and teenage years. They're amusing, but flat--lacking insight and depth. They were just random stories about how awkward Fey is/was (many of which were already familiar from watching 30 Rock). Another large chunk of the book was what I can only guess is a weak attempt at satirizing the femoir: chapters on beauty tips, breastfeeding, photoshoots, etc. (And am I the only one getting sick of Fey dwelling on how unattractive she thinks she is?) The best part of the book was that spent talking about the Sarah Palin bits on SNL. But it was a swollen section in a quite unbalanced book. The book lacked theme, structure, or concept. It read like a collection of columns that were edited together chronologically, with no thought to a bigger picture.
But the worst thing I can say about Bossypants is that there weren't any parts I wanted to read aloud to someone. It just wasn't that funny.
on March 3, 2014
Given Tina Fey's 6 years on SNL and 7 on 30 Rock, I went into this book assuming I'd get some real insights into other cast members and guests, broadening my appreciation for them along with Tina. Never happens, in fact were I one of her fellow cast members I'd feel dissed by the lack of attention she gives. So many truly talented people along her creative path, yet so little sharing of her experiences with them. Reading this book came to feel like trudging across a desert looking for an oasis that never arrives, honestly it left me feeling that dissatisfied at the end.
I found her childhood through college memories vaguely interesting, but never LOL, and generally too long. I waded through whole chapters on her mom, then her dad, and later even on breast feeding, patiently assuming these would frame the real substance of her book, insider recollections from her SNL/30 Rock years which never truly arrive. Having always been a fan of Tina's self effacing and sharp witted comedy style, especially on 30 Rock which she created, this came all the more as a disappointment.
Such talents as Jane Krakowski, Judah Friedlander, Chris Parnell (nary a mention of any of them), Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan (barely touched upon) and even Alec Baldwin (no insights, just snippets of adulation) along with a Who's Who of comedic guests are brushed past. The lack of any sharing of her interplay with Jane Krakowski in particular, who works so well as a counter to Tina and a star in the show in her own right, was especially disappointing to me given she was one of the few non-SNL cast members and her range of talent such an asset.
Same for the cast of SNL from 2000-2006, including Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg...well, you get it, a wealth of gifted comedic performers she related to on a daily basis. Tina's a wonderfully creative comedic performer and writer with a sharp wit, but unfortunately this book left me disappointed, failing to tap into her sense of humor and wealth of experiences during her defining body of work.
This may be a case of her needing to have a talented independent author write a book about her career, experiences and fellow cast members to provide her story the depth it deserves. While Tina's clearly a talented comedic writer of scripts, she may be too close to her body of work and friends made along the way to write of them without possibly fearing to offend them. That is my hope, anyways.
on April 19, 2011
I'm a big fan of Tina Fey and 30 Rock, so when I first heard about this book, I checked it out immediately. From Amazon's preview pages alone, I was convinced that this would be a fun, light read, which it is. Unfortunately, it's a little too light, as there isn't a lot of depth to the topics that Fey covers. She never gets too detailed when it comes to current personal matters, which is understandable; she's never struck me as the type of celebrity to talk about her personal life at length, so the fact that we get anything in that regard is fine.
But she also glosses over the behind-the-scenes stuff related to 30 Rock and SNL, and her film work is ommitted entirely save for a couple of passing references to Mean Girls. That these topics aren't covered in more depth in favor of an entire chapter on what it's like to be in a magazine photoshoot is pretty disappointing. Although to be fair, she does devote a good deal of time to the Sarah Palin situation.
But where the book really shines is in Fey's dissection of the rampant sexism found in the male-dominated field of comedy, both past and present. She tackles the topic with a humor and eloquence I haven't seen or heard anywhere else, and it's these bits scattered throughout the book that really make it worth reading.
In the end, the book's shortcomings basically balance out with its strong points, leaving it just a decent book. It's difficult to even justify calling it 288 pages long, as the margins and line spacing are larger than I've seen in most books and it also includes several pictures and entire script excerpts from 30 Rock and SNL. I'd say it's realistically about half the advertised length, though it's a totally breezy read. I managed to finish it in one weekend, and I'm generally a pretty slow reader. It's easy to pickup and difficult to put down, though it's a book I could really only recommend for hardcore Tina Fey fans.
on May 17, 2011
I love Tina Fey - don't get me wrong. But this book - an autobiography supposedly - reveals very little. There are a lot of "cheats": samples of scripts for example which were just page fillers. I would have liked to know her first writing successes and who taught her or influenced her - her first well-received work, and perhaps a failure that was a learning opportunity. I'd like to know more about her mother - who is barely mentioned - and her sibling(s). Are they writers too? If no one in her family showed a talent for writing, what made her start? Why did she join an improv group? How did she meet her husband? Everybody loves a great love story! Anyway - I still love her and think she's brilliant, but this book was a bit of a disappointment.