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Tina Fey: Bossypants Hardcover – April 5, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011: Tina Fey’s new book Bossypants is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on Saturday Night Live, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation. Some of the funniest chapters feature the differences between male and female comedy writers ("men urinate in cups"), her cruise ship honeymoon ("it’s very Poseidon Adventure"), and advice about breastfeeding ("I had an obligation to my child to pretend to try"). But the chaos of Fey’s life is best detailed when she’s dividing her efforts equally between rehearsing her Sarah Palin impression, trying to get Oprah to appear on 30 Rock, and planning her daughter’s Peter Pan-themed birthday. Bossypants gets to the heart of why Tina Fey remains universally adored: she embodies the hectic, too-many-things-to-juggle lifestyle we all have, but instead of complaining about it, she can just laugh it off. --Kevin Nguyen
Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.
PRAISE FOR TINA FEY:
"You'd be really pretty if you lost weight."―College Boyfriend, 1990
"Tina Fey is an ugly, pear-shaped, overrated troll."―The Internet
"Mommy, where are my pretzels?"―Tracy Morgan
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR BOSSYPANTS:
"I hope that's not really the cover. That's really going to hurt sales."―Don Fey, Father of Tina Fey
"Absolutely delicious!"―A Guy Who Eats Books
"Totally worth it."―Trees
"Do not print this glowing recommendation of Tina Fey's book until I've been dead a hundred years."―Mark Twain
"Hilarious and insightful. Laugh-out-loud funny -- oh no, a full moon. No! Arrgh! Get away from me! Save yourself!"―A Guy Turning into a Werewolf
Top customer reviews
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For me, the most enjoyable parts centered around the backstage shenanigans and politics of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. Hearing Tina recount her first day as a writer on SNL, when she draws the short straw and has to be the one to tell host Sylvester Stallone that he needs to "enunciate" more, was pure comedy gold, and I was at once laughing at her, as well as laughing with her.
There's nothing too deep here. Even the story of how she received the trademark scar on her cheek is glossed over with (funny) jokes and snide remarks. But did we really expect anything else from the most recognizable anchor of the Weekend Update?
If you can get the audio version, do. It's worth it to hear Fey's self-deprecating voice narrate her own words.
The book is structured more or less chronologically, which makes sense with an autobiography. However, there are several things which set it apart from the average autobiography, or even biography. Firstly, it is very, very funny. Laugh out loud funny, and that doesn't happen very often. And secondly, it was surprisingly insightful for something billed as comedy. It is obvious that Fey is very observant watcher of the human species, and is introspective enough to offer us genuine insight into what it's like to live in the world today. There were certainly insights that made me reflect on my own life, without it ever being preachy.
I read Bossypants the first time before watching 30 Rock, and there are a couple of chapters which didn't mean a lot as I didn't know the characters or the players. I still loved it, but it made more sense reading it the second time after watching 30 Rock.
What becomes clear when reading this book, is just how smart, sassy and capable Fey is. She is humble in many ways, which makes her humour so approachable. But there is a clear strength of character which allows her to follow through on projects despite difficulties or obstacles. So while this is very, very funny, and a joy to read, it is also quite inspirational. I'm giving a copy to a friend's teenage daughter who wants to be a writer. I think it will be a hit!
In Tina Fey’s comedical memoir Bossypants she shares the professional lessons she learned to become one of America’s most influential women. Starting out as a shy and awkward girl from Pennsylvania, Fey had always set one dream in her mind: becoming a comedian. “Somewhere around the fifth or seventh grade I figured out that I could ingratiate myself to people by making them laugh. I was trying to make them like me. But after a while it became part of my identity.”
Soon after graduating college, Fey joined an improv theater in Chicago called “The Second City.” It was here that she realized that pleasing everybody would almost be impossible, if that meant she had to give up her own likes. After a sexist encounter during the casting of a new play, Fey realized that by letting your work be your main focus and by ignoring the negativity that surrounds you, you will please the most important person-yourself. “Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions ... Do your thing, and don't care if they like it.” Fey made it clear that if you wanted to grow in your career, you had to learn to let go.
After getting an offer to work at Saturday Night Live, Fey was faced with the same problems -sexism and haters. When she started writing pieces for the show she said “so, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”
Later she did, in fact, become the boss of her own TV show, 30 Rock. From there onwards Fey held onto her principles and shared the pivotal moments in her life in her memoir. Fey was very clear about her attitude and knew that she was going to reach her goal without letting others come in the way.
Overall, I would give this book a 3/5.
Fey’s experiences in the book were all hilarious and impacting, but the memoir lacked a main focus. Although she organized her book chronologically, by including the important aspects of her life that led to her success growing up, she failed to bring the book together on an overall theme. The reader must make assumptions on how to connect all the stories to take a message out of the book.
Fey also did not describe the “how” part very well when addressing “how she achieved her stardom.” One of the targeted audience for this book were women that wanted to be as successful as her, but Fey never described the instances that allowed her to reach Saturday Night Live or how she got to creating the TV show 30 Rock. Including these aspects of her journey could have been very helpful to the targeted audiences who wanted to take notes from her story. Another drawback was the extremely feminist views she included. Although I am a strong believer in equality for men and women, Fey sometimes took her views too far in the book when she tries to degrade males in the working industry. She makes a few insulting generalizations about how most men are either there for sexual needs or to sit around and criticize in the workplace. Comments like these made it uncomfortable for me, being a woman, to read a book so feminist.
On a brighter note, the book was definitely an eye-opener for me as I never realized how much work one must put to receive recognition. All of Fey’s stories made it clear that you had to be extremely hardworking to reach your goal, and her workaholic ways allowed her to reach her stardom.
Also, it was also very shocking to discover the sexism that existed in the television industry. What I appreciated in the book was how we could view Fey as a role model in standing firm for what you are here to accomplish. She was very clear from the start that if she wanted to make it big, she had to assure that there wasn’t going to be anybody between her and her goal.
What I loved most about the book was her style as a writer. Fey was a very simple writer and never used obnoxious diction to prove her point or her status. Not once in the book did Fey hold herself to high regard, which was what made it so relatable to the reader. She includes silly instances like acknowledging changes in her body during puberty, but at the same time easily shows the seriousness she takes towards her work. Throughout the book I appreciated the tips given from her personal experiences, as she manages to also sprinkle in some humor (mostly jokes made on herself). All in all, Bossypants is a fun read for all the Tina Fey fans out there who are looking for a few laughs and Fey’s “playful inside-television journey.”