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Just the Funny Parts: ...And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boy's Club Hardcover – March 20, 2018
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“This clear-eyed account of 30 years in a profoundly flawed industry is the funniest, most unflinching book I’ve read in a long time. I laughed out loud so many times. If you’ve ever watched TV, you should read this book. And if you’ve ever read a book, you should read this one, too.” (John Oliver)
“First things first. Just the Funny Parts is, like Nell Scovell herself, funny as hell. Laugh-out-loud chuckles, eye rolls, embarrassed (for Nell) giggles—it’s all there. But there’s a lot more, too. This is a smart, wise book about growing up, growing old(er), and most of all, what it means to be a woman in a man’s world. That’s no joke. (But it is, as I mentioned, funny.)” (Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress)
“Nell Scovell has finally written the book that everyone in the comedy world has been waiting for! Besides being one of the funniest people I know, she has not just survived, but she has thrived. How the hell did she do it?? Crack it open and find out!” (Bette Midler)
“This book is soooo good! Nell not only recalls her comedy writing career with wit but also transports us there to sit alongside her as witness. Just the Funny Parts could easily be called Just The Brave Parts.” (Larry Wilmore)
“Nell is an incredible writer, and this book is just as amazing as I would expect. I particularly liked page 213.” (Samantha Bee, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee )
“In Just the Funny Parts, Nell Scovell offers readers an unvarnished look into a writer’s life. Through her unique lens, she bravely confronts some uncomfortable truths, and yet keeps you laughing the whole way through.” (George Lucas, yeah that George Lucas)
“I’ve known for a while that Nell is an unusually talented and funny writer, but I had no idea just how much she shaped the TV that I’ve watched for decades—or how much bias she faced along the way. Despite that (and sometimes because of it), this book was a delight to read. It’s full of jokes that made me laugh and sharp analyses that made me think.” (Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals, and co-author of Option B)
“In this illuminating memoir, Scovell details her career as a highly successful television writer over the last three decades, during which she was usually the only woman in the room… Scovell has repeatedly felt the sting of toiling in Los Angeles, “where rejection and failure are the bread and butter of this gluten-free, nondairy town,” and in an industry that continually looked for a cheaper, younger version of her. But in working with Sheryl Sandberg as the co-writer on Lean In, she was reminded of a timeless lesson: doing something that is meaningful to oneself might also have an impact on others. Scovell’s memoir is wonderfully entertaining and ultimately uplifting.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Scovell minces few words when skewering the toxic atmosphere for female talent in Hollywood….Her fearlessness was clearly evidenced when the David Letterman sex scandal broke and the author made a controversial and risky career move by speaking out about a marked lack of gender diversity in the late-night TV arena….A breezy, affably written amalgam of memoir, advice, and workplace survival guide from the front lines of the entertainment industry.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A smart, energetic, determined woman, someone who is always shooting for greater success and who really hates it when she fails at something. A revealing and timely portrait of a professional writer and the industry in which she works.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
Just the Funny Parts is a juicy and scathingly funny insider look at how pop culture gets made. For more than thirty years, writer, producer, and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic shows, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, NCIS, The Muppets, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced.
Then in 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Only the second woman ever to write for his show, Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms fueled a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement.
Now Scovell is opening up with this fun, honest, and often shocking account. Scovell knows what it’s like to put words in the mouths of President Barack Obama, Mark Harmon, Candice Bergen, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Alyssa Milano, and Kermit the Frog, among many others. Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpsons writers’ room . . . stand on the red carpet . . . pin a tail on Miss Piggy . . . bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy . . . and experience a Stephen King–like encounter with Stephen King.
Just the Funny Parts is a fast-paced story of a nerdy girl from New England who fought her way to the top of the highly competitive, male-dominated entertainment field. The book delivers invaluable insights into the creative process and tricks for navigating a difficult workplace. It’s part memoir, part how-to, and part survival story. Or, as Scovell puts it, “It’s like Unbroken, but funnier and with slightly less torture.”
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Yes, the book does feature a certain amount of 'dish' - Nell Scovell has written material for everyone from Bob Newhart to Barack Obama - and contains dozens and dozens of laugh out loud jokes, what's most striking is the way the author weaves her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated business into an inspiring reflection of how with dogged effort one can succeed against the odds. ('Success' here is defined by the ability to work consistently at something one loves doing. Scovell seems to have completed as many scripts which ultimately weren't produced as were.)
I could say much more - but the book speaks better for itself. A must buy.
There’s been a recent spate of celebrity memoirs written by female comedians. I’ve read (or tried to read) them all: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Anna Ferris’ Unqualified, Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?, etc. This one is much, much, better — no doubt due to the fact that Nell Scovell is a comedy writer rather than a comedy performer and therefore can really write!
This memoir is part sitcom, part Hollywood wannabe training material, and part exposé on the difficulties of women getting fair treatment (or any treatment at all, really) in the industry. The very first line is her own paraphrase of Nietzsche: “That which doesn’t kill me … allows me to regroup and retaliate” — a great and apt opening!
I love Nell’s writing - it’s well structured and quite personal but never strident nor overly dramatic. Some great quotes, intriguing character profiles, factual depictions of the diversity (or utter lack thereof) in writer rooms, and a real sense of the frustrations in the field. The book is littered with fabulous (and funny) story ideas that went nowhere for no reason. Her summarized job timeline in the appendix is full of “shot but unaired”, “unshot”, and “unsold” labels, with what feels like a tiny sprinkling of successes. Such futility! Any dreams I had of working in Hollywood (luckily I had none) have been thoroughly quashed by reading through this descriptive tour of a Hollywood writing career. At the same time, Nell’s love and passion for the work is obvious, and it is clear she wouldn’t choose to be doing anything else.
Perhaps you know her from Sabrina the Teenage Witch or perhaps from her co-authorship of Lean In with Sheryl Sandberg. Even if you’ve never heard of her at all, you’ll enjoy this well-documented peregrination through her life as a writer of comedy. FYI I tend to find non-fiction a slog, rarely making it past the 1/3 mark, but I gobbled this book up in two days.