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Just the Funny Parts: My 30 Years on the Hollywood Jungle Gym

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,354 ratings  ·  495 reviews
Introduction by Sheryl Sandberg

If Bossypants and Lean In got drunk and hooked up, their sloppy-sex-love-child would be this juicy and insightful memoir which blows the doors off the male dominated writers’ room and offers a scathingly funny account of Hollywood’s sexual politics over the last thirty years.

After David Letterman publicly confessed that he’d had "sex with sta
Kindle Edition, 341 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Dey Street Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,354 ratings  ·  495 reviews

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Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of Nell Scovell, who's a writer, producer and director, but somehow this book was brought to my attention and I'm glad it was. She's a talented writer who worked on some of my favorite TV shows. She's also a Democrat so we have that in common. It's a very interesting memoir.

I like her attitude - "I expect nothing, hope for something, and am delighted when my efforts are rewarded."

I recommend this book!
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

When people conclude that it must be "soooo much fun" to work on The Muppets, it's like assuming the Oompa Loompas love every minute working at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. To outsiders, it's all chocolate waterfalls and funny songs. But late at night, someone's got to clean up after all those nut-testing squirrels. And let's just say the nuts are high in fiber.

Nell Scovell hits the mark throughout this fun and spot-on inside look at Hollywood...from a female writer's point-of-view. She has
Michelle Ruiz Andrews
Not since Bossypants have I loved and laughed over a memoir so much. This book was my heaven: a hilariously funny and frank look at writing and creativity and celebrities and TV and, lest we forget, fighting sexism in the workplace. Nell Scovell was and is a pioneer for women in Hollywood and, now, rightfully will go down as a feminist hero for co-writing Lean In. She’s self-deprecating and genius and doesn’t spare herself (while also dishing about Dave Letterman) in her memories of her awesome ...more
Terri Naughton
I generally like show-biz memoirs, but this one was a bit too show-bizzy for me. I guess it doesn't help that the shows the author was involved with are not ones that I tend to watch. A lot of name-dropping; not a lot of substance. ...more
Anita Pomerantz
Scovell provides the reader with some "inside baseball" on how challenging it is to break into comedic writing in Hollywood, especially if you are a woman. She has a long resume, so definitely has some interesting anecdotes, and she didn't shy away from naming names. But overall, I expected that as a comedy writer, the book would be wittier than it was. It also trots out the various complaints that feminists have been stating repeatedly for years, and so that component doesn't seem incredibly fr ...more
Tommy Van Norman
"Both Nell and I look forward to the day when there are no 'female writers'—just writers. We share an unshakeable belief that having an equal number of men and women sitting at the table where decisions are made will make this world fairer and better. It will also make the world funnier."

“Wish I could shake younger me and tell her, ‘If you are the only girl in the room it doesn’t mean you’re better. It means something is wrong.’”

I'll be honest - I didn't know who Nell Scovell was until I saw thi
Marjorie Ingall
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grownups
Short, tightly written, sharp. And very funny. It's less a memoir than a class by the most charismatic professor you had in college, about comedy writing AND about the barriers faced by women in comedy writing. Scovell was Sheryl Sandberg's co-author (I've been a co-author; guess what, it means that Scovell wrote the book) on Lean In, and to me this was a better read on the same topic, writ small rather than sweeping. Some people criticized Lean In for being classist, victim-blame-y, and clueles ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does just what it says on the tin -- a straightforward memoir of Scovell's writing career, with a few personal-life tidbits thrown in for good measure -- and I've been recommending it to everyone for the past week or so. She really digs into what it's like and what it means to be the only woman in the room, how it happens, and how it changes. Plus: jokes! ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended this book and I'm glad I read it! It was an interesting look into the life of Nell Scovell and how she's dealt with looking for success in Hollywood. I liked that she didn't hold anything back in terms of what went on behind the scenes of certain shows she worked on and the struggles she dealt with. It was nice to hear about the creation of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and how she pushed to keep both aunts kindhearted people. Hearing everything she has to say about David Letterma ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Scovell's origin story (essentially the first part of the book) is fun to read. Origin stories naturally have plot points and tension, and they answer intriguing questions. How did the protagonist acquire her superpower (in this case, humor)? How did she become the superhero we know and love (in this case, an established TV writer)?

But then Scovell continues chronicling her life in Hollywood, detailing how the system is stacked against women. And while I'm sure she's right, and while I agree th
I have another hero! A hilarious, moving, fascinating memoir by a very smart, funny, resilient, and generous person.
After a quick tour of her childhood, the author takes us through her accomplished career as a writer, director, showrunner, and producer in journalism, movies, and TV - she has worked in just about every genre, with the one common thread being that her work has been funny everywhere she went.
At the same time, this is a frank and sometimes scathingly angry history of the misogynisti
Lee Anne
Behind-the-scenes television gossip combined with feminist words of encouragement. Nell Scovell worked at Spy magazine, on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and many other pop culture favorites of mine. This memoir is a good read for fans of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

I only wish I knew the names behind the blind items!
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for pretty much all working women, even if you're not in Hollywood. ...more
Jennifer Girard

It's very eye opening to read about a woman working in Hollywood as a writer. I liked the audiobook as well (even thought it wasn't narrated by the author)
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a sobering, truthful look at the very real barriers to entry for women looking to write comedy. who would wanna do that to herself? haha anyways

no but really, nell scovell is such a canny, perceptive writer, and funny as hell
Jessica Woodbury
3.5 stars. Nell Scovell and I don't share much of a sense of humor, so this isn't an all-out rave though I suspect it would be if we were more similar that way. But after reading Scovell's book I feel like I know a lot more about how Writers' Rooms work and (depressingly) how happily those rooms have clung to absolute bare minimum diversity for as long as they could.

Most of Scovell's time pre-dates our current Prestige TV era, and I know a lot has gotten better but... also Hollywood. Scovell is
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I began reading this book thinking it would be a fun read with some juicy gossip. It was that, and so much more! This book is about chasing dreams, changing course, failing- and moving forward, finding your voice and many more career and life lessons. It shows the value of mentors and friends. It offers a look into he process of pitching, writing, re-writing, show running and directing in show biz. It let's the reader know how it feels to be the only woman in the male-centric world of TV and mov ...more
Amy Allen
If you like to read insider name dropping memoirs about late 20th century TV, this is the book for you. I don't think I realized that's what it was going to be. I thought it would be more thoughtful. I actually quit reading it about 70% through it, as I found myself dreading opening my Kindle. As soon as I stopped reading it and began reading a novel, my happiness returned.
So, I may be cheating on my book count. I'll do better, I promise.
Adored this book by Nell Scovell, creator of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV show, among many other things. I loved following the ascent of her career and was careful not to google because I didn't want to know what happened next. (Although we know from the start she co-authored Lean In with Sheryl Sandberg). Well-written and funny. My only complaint is that I listened to it in audio format and I wish she'd been the one to narrate. ...more
M. Langlinais
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who worked (very briefly) in "the industry," I very much enjoyed this book. Not laugh-out-loud funny but certainly insightful. Recommended for those curious to hear how things work in Hollywood--especially for women. ...more
This was an interesting insider look at how comedy is written, although it was more of a straight faced memoir than I was expecting. Scovell shares some bits of her comedy writing, but the telling itself was pretty straightforward, bordering on a bit boring.
Gretchen Alice
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was my first televised obsession. My first ship, my first style idol, my first time trying to rearrange plans so I didn't have to miss an episode of my favorite show. (That really happened, by the way. My parents made me go to my uncle's house for dinner anyway and I was furious at them for, like, a week.) I didn't realize this at the time, but Nell Scovell was the creator behind my tweenage love. She's also worked on Murphy Brown and The Muppets and Warehouse 13 and a ...more
Just the Funny Parts: … and a Few Hard Truths about Sneaking Into the Hollywood Boy’s Club

I Picked Up This Book Because: Someone close to me aspires to be a TV writer so I thought I’d see what she was signing up for.

The Story:

Part memoir, part advice column, part real facts about Hollywood Nell takes us on a recounting of her career from “Who is Nell Scovell” to “Who is Nell Scovell”. This book is well written and pulls not punches about the sexism, racism and other flaws of
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, memoirs
This memoir by a semi-successful writer of comedy, television shows and speeches was interesting. However, she got jobs on a number of extremely successful and/or notable shows and in many, many cases she quit after one season or even sooner. Getting a writing gig on Letterman, which many would consider the apex of comedy writing, she quit, she says, after only 3 months. The reader is left with the nagging thought that she is a quitter or there is more to these tales than she is telling. Especia ...more
Three and a half stars.

I usually only read memoirs/biographies of people I either admire a great deal, or am intensely curious about. I'm not one to pick up a random bio of someone I'm vaguely familiar with just for kicks.

I chose to read this title because of Nell's brief association with David Letterman. Happily, she also worked for other performers I like a lot, like The Smothers Brothers and Bob Newhart. She also had some famous friends and/or collaborators I was interested in, like Penn Jill
K. Haas
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are moments in "Just the Funny Parts" where you wish it was another of Nell Scovell's sitcoms, rather than an unflinching look at her real life.

If only it were a work of fiction, real-life characters like Jim Stafford — who coerced her into a sexual act when she thought her job was on the line and then essentially fired her anyway — would get some sort of fourth-act comeuppance. But, as it is in the real world, the fourth act progresses just as Scovell says it does for any aging writer bei
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The four levels of writing in Hollywood: Who is Nell Scovell? Get me Nell Scovell! Get me someone cheaper than Nell Scovell! Who is Nell Scovell? Scovell shares her experiences being the only female writer in the writing room for David Letterman, The Simpsons, Coach, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and others.

I got this audiobook on a whim when looking for a new one. But I’m glad I’m did. I didn’t know much about her before this, but she’s written for a lot of TV shows and specials I have seen and e
Jonathan Maas
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An at times hilarious, and at times terrifying, but always inspiring memoir

Great memoir by a legendary comedienne, or rather writer. Hilarious and inspiring, Nell Scovell takes us on her rocket ship of a career, and together we navigate through the asteroid field of such high profile positions.

Great memoir. She's done a lot of great shows and movies, and I mean a lot, but this one might be her best of all.
Tali Nay
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I really enjoyed this book. A fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes world of script writing, (and yes, I was one of those teens with Sabrina the Teenage Witch posters in my room) as well as a sobering account of the lack of women given opportunities in this field. The world needs more Nell Scovells. The thing is though, there ARE more. They just need to be given the opportunities they deserve. And they need to write more books.
Fran Burdsall
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My god, this girl can write! The story of her developing feminist sensibilities hit home for this baby boomer. Back in my day, finding bright, talented working women to commiserate with was difficult. There were so few of us. Her activism has made a difference and will continue to shape the marketplace. Unfortunately the men who undervalue female counterparts are dinosaurs. We may just have to wait for their extinction.
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Play Book Tag: Just the Funny Parts/Scovell - 3 stars 1 9 May 24, 2020 05:35AM  

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Nell Scovell is a television and magazine writer, producer and director. She is the creator of the television series 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch', which aired on ABC and The WB from 1996 until 2003. ...more

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