Fresh from winning the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and finishing the fifth season of 30 Rock, Tina Fey is now a published author. In her first foray into prose, not script, writing she’s done a good job. As a humor book, Bossypants is funny, although there aren’t as many laugh out loud moments as a David Sedaris collection or a Steve Martin New Yorker piece (and I think that is who she probably saw as her competition). As a memoir, the book probably isn’t as honest as it could be, although in Fey’s defense she is writing at the height of her fame and success when a) she doesn’t have as much perspective on what’s happened to her as she will later in life, and b) she needs to be careful about biting the hands that feed her with any really shocking revelations or strong opinions that will alienate people she has to or may work with.
If you are looking for a breezy funny read, you should definitely pick a copy up or borrow the book from a friend … but if you just want a sense of it so you can sound on top of your reading at the next Mensa meeting or fit in a a cocktail reception … here’s your homework, already done for you.
Cover: Am I the only one who is getting sick of Tina Fey doing anything / everything to make herself seem weird or ugly when she has control over her photos. She’s intelligent, hilarious, and gorgeous … time to get comfortable with the last of those facts and stop downplaying it.
Copyright Page: Ms. Fey is such a good business woman, she had her company copyright the book so it will never enter the public domain. Here’s hoping her comedy is just as fresh in 2111!
Dedication: Yes, there is even a joke here.
p. 3: Fey gets all the advice for making it as a woman in a male-dominated workplace out of the way at the top. Surprise insight for this male reader: “don’t eat diet foots in meetings.” I didn’t know I had to hold that against the fairer sex, so thanks for the heads up.
p. 5: Is that a Two and a Half Men joke? Wow, now I really want to know when Fey’s deadline for the manuscript was — because either this is a testament to Harper Reagan’s quick turn-around time or further proof that even luck is on her side.
p. 8-9: You wanna know about that scar?
p. 15: Young Tina realizes she is a woman when a guy drives by in a car and shouts “Nice tits!” at her. This is immediately followed by her first un-ladylike act.
p. 23: Fey’s list of bodyparts for which she is grateful, followed more or less immediately by the admission that she lied about at least one.
p. 29: First use of the word “twat” in a book receiving a positive review from the Christian Science Monitor.
p. 32: Do not read this page if you don’t want the surprise in Sleepaway Camp ruined. Or if you are not a fan of the gays.
p.45-55 You are not allowed to skip any of the chapter “That’s Don Fey” and it will not be summarized here.
p. 57: Pay special attention lonely comedians, Tina Fey has set the record straight here: “I like white boys.” At last!
p. 61: In hopes of maybe dry humping for a while, the author climbs a mountain in the middle of the night with a boy she has been making out with. We’ll let you guess if it ends well.
p. 72: Tina’s tips on being a considerate co-worker.
p. 79: Fey tells a story about the horror of getting up early to take the subway in the bitter cold and go to job she loathes, that has a 50% chance of leaving you feeling no pity for her in light of what you know she’s got coming.
p. 80: The author calls herself on the previous story.
p. 82: The time Second City Touring Company (including Amy Poehler and Ali Farahnakian) threw out their “best of” script and did their own material without asking.
p. 84-85: “The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life ad Reduce Belly Fat”
p. 88: Fey launches into remarks on the topic we’ve all been waiting to hear about: “the boys’ club” of comedy, then claims she was only cast onto the Second City Mainstage because Amy Poehler moved to New York with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
p.99-100: Do not read these pages if you are afraid of going on a cruise ever since you saw Titantic.
p. 103-114: Fey’s Twelve Tenets of Looking Amazing Forever (you can skip these if you are a guy, as long as you aren’t for the dudes).
p. 128-129: Nestled in among a bunch of other “Things I Learned from Lorne Michaels” is this real nugget: “Never tell a crazy person he’s crazy.”
p. 135: Fey summarizes the change she saw in SNL during her decade at the show, specifically with regards to women in the workplace.
p. 144: In response to the question [Person X] doesn’t think women are funny, do you have anything to stay to that? Fey writes: “Yes. We don’t fucking care if you like it.” Before explaining that when a woman faces sexism she should just decide if the person involved is her boss … and if not, ignore it.
p. 157: The author comes out in favor of Photoshop after comparing it to abortion. Yes, that abortion … not the space shuttle mission ending early variety.
p. 164: Fey’s responses to internet comment posts about her in this chapter are pretty funny, but no response tops her answer to a random poster who calls her “…an ugly, pear-shaped, bitchy, overrated troll.” I’ll only give away the start: “First, let me say how inspiring it is that you have learned to use a computer.”
p. 174: First time something nice has been said about Jeff Zucker in print in at least … well, maybe ever.
p. 175-183: The entire original writing staff of 30 Rock comes in for individualized effusive praise, accompanied by almost contextless script snippets. I hope she’s doing this for the people who were hired in subsequent seasons later in the book, otherwise the break she’s on right now until August may not be enough time for people to get over feeling slighted.
p. 195: A page of answers to FAQ about 30 Rock.
p. 207: Oprah — OPRAH! — suggests to Tina Fey that she may be overextending herself
p. 217: Just to keep things down to earth the details of daughter Alice’s third birthday are offered, along with a photo of a pirate ship cake made for the occasion.
p. 229: Fey finally says something negative about Lorne Michaels, proving that she does not have him confused with her father — she says she felt cornered by him and forced to be a part of the appearance by the real Sarah Palin on SNL. (Lot’s of other great talk of the Palin impersonation throughout this chapter as well, and a reminder that while she was on the cast Fey pretty much only ever did Update).
p. 240: First “cunt” — in reference to an obstetrician suggesting Fey’s daughter was born a bit underweight because she hadn’t rested enough during her pregnancy.
p. 243: A helpful hilarious list of suggestions for creating “Me Time” after the birth of a child.
p. 246: Fey reveals she does not have a driver’s license. This fact is sure to join my sister’s list of defense exhibits the next time she is visiting home and asks to be driven somewhere by my parents.
p. 260: Some more personal writing from Fey about spending time with her daughter.
p. 265: Three sentences on what turning forty means.
p. 271: Fey shares a sneaking suspicion that women in comedy who get called crazy after a certain age suffer that fate because they keep “talking even after no one wants to fuck [them] anymore”
p. 277: And the book ends with an invitation to talk to Tina in public restrooms, because “Everyone else does.”
Greg Maughan is a comedian and the founder of Philly Improv Theater (PHIT).