Deborah Edwards's Reviews > Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey
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Nov 20, 2011

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Read in November, 2011

Tina Fey manages to be one of those people I simultaneously respect, admire, envy, and want to hang out with all at the same time. Her cerebral, edgy, and original humor has done for women in the field of comedy what, say, Hillary Clinton (no, not Sarah Palin, ironic as that may have been) has done for women in politics. She has made everyone re-examine their preconceptions and helped people to accept women in roles once reserved for men. As head writer of Saturday Night Live, she helped bring more women to the forefront of sketch comedy and fought against the idea that "women aren't funny." Luckily, she had some powerful men supporting in her in this effort (Lorne Michaels, most prominently) and some really funny women for whom to write (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon, for instance) or who knows how all of that groundbreaking idealism might have gone. The journey from teen summer theater to the Groundlings to SNL to "30 Rock" and a film career is wonderfully engaging and filled with her trademark clever humor and absurd self-deprecation, but I enjoyed this book the most when it offered some real insights into how the television business really works and the types of obstacles facing creative artists every day, particularly female comedians who still face an old-boy network that refuses to validate or finance their efforts. One of the more striking observations in the book comes near the end when Fey has reached the height of her success to date and is agonizing over whether or not to have a seocnd child. The time this would take from her career, she muses, would leave her "unemployable and labeled crazy in five years anyway." She goes on to state a harsh reality:

"Let me clarify. I have observed that women, at least in comedy, are labeled "crazy" after a certain age...I've known older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they're all "crazy." I have a suspicion - and hear me out, 'cause this is a rough one - I have a suspicion that the definition of "crazy" in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fu** her anymore."

Yup. She said it. One of the many times I silently cheered "Good for you, Tina!" while reading this book.

There are a lot of funny stories, laugh out loud moments, and touching little vignettes in Tina Fey's book "Bossypants." It's a really likable, well-intentioned, and smart little read. But every now and then she gives you an insight like the one above and reminds everyone why it's so important that she's here. That's why I love Tina Fey.

(Three and a half stars, btw - which I think is a really good rating for a book I definitely recommend to Fey's fans, people who want to get into the business, and young women everywhere. Plus, the little behind-the-scenes peeks into the world of SNL and "30 Rock" were really fun for me.)
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Steve What, you mean the Christopher Hitchens essay isn't true? Women can be funny?

Great review, BTW.

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