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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
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If you don't have Fey's voice and delivery in your head, a lot of the book will fall flat. Some comedy really has to be heard to be appreciated--and that doesn't mean it isn't good; similarly, a lot of beautifully written comic literature falls flat when read aloud. If you don't believe me, just try reading P.G. Wodehouse aloud. I'll wait. *beat* Oh, was that you throwing yourself off a bridge? Right.
All of which is to say, this is an okay in-flight read (I'm assuming; I don't fly, either on airplanes or under my own power) and an okay bus stop read (I'm assuming; I don't stop buses) and an okay "I'm dining alone and don't want to make awkward eye contact with strangers" read (also assuming; I am indifferent to the opinions of strangers). So theoretically, there are circumstances appropriate for this book. For example, I read most of it in two-minute segments while brushing my teeth. Does that count as a recommendation? Only my dentist knows for sure.
There is not so much a “plot” as much as there’s a progression of stories, all told with a unique voice and moral. The stories progress from childhood to professional, which lets readers find different ways to identify with Fey, making the book relatable for many different kinds of people. That’s one of the things I liked most about the book. As a woman, one of the best pieces in the book was the commentary about body image. Fey says “But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
This excerpt is also a good example of the language Fey uses. Again, it’s very casual and relatable, creating a relaxed tone for everyone to enjoy. You often times forget that you are reading a real book, because it seems more like an editorial or essay. Another positive of the casualness of the book is that you can read at whatever pace you want. You can read a few stories and stop, or you can read the whole thing in one sitting. The lack of “chapters” and “cliffhangers” makes it a much more lighthearted read. There is such a strong presence of voice, which is a huge positive in my opinion. Also, it really helps that you are already familiar with Fey and her persona. She has a very strong voice and distinct sense of humor, it makes it even more enjoyable. Even if you have never heard of Tina Fey or her work before, you will find it witty and thought provoking. There is also a lot of interesting information about Fey’s professional life, such as her time with saturday night live, and 30 Rock. The lack of plot or characters does not hurt the value of the book. To me, it is driven by heart and smart humor. You learn a lot, you laugh a lot, and relate to a well known celebrity more than you thought you would. I would recommend this book to anyone of any walks of life, because everyone can take something from it as a “self help” book, as well as a incredibly entertaining and lighthearted read.
I find Tina Fey a funny and talented comedian, and I love watching her performances, but in this book she either completely sells herself short on her capabilities, or she was the luckiest person repeatedly to have built up her career as successfully as she did. That's what she makes it sound in her book.
There are some really sweet and funny stories in the book, and truths about her personal life, and that was very enjoyable to listen to.