Author: Tina Fey
Release date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette Audio
Genre: Nonfiction: memoir/comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5
Let’s not beat around the bush here. You have to read this book. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll love Fey’s nonstop punch lines. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you can study her tips to learn effective improv and what makes jokes funny. Beyond that, however, Tina Fey’s hard work and ambition, always visible beneath the surface, is sure to inspire men and women alike to reach for what matters to them.
I enjoyed Fey’s appearances on Saturday Night Live, and I would describe myself as at least a casual fan of 30 Rock—I don’t watch it religiously, but I’ve been known to enjoy episodes like the one where Jack Donaghy explains that Liz Lemon is merely “business drunk. It’s like rich drunk. Either way, it’s legal to drive.”
So when I heard that Fey had released a memoir, I was intrigued, but by no means sold. After all, everyone is writing a memoir these days.
But I was very, very pleasantly surprised by Bossypants. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read. But it is important to note that the book isn’t just about humor. It’s about making it in your dream career—whatever that may be.
Fey brims with passion when she talks about comedy—especially improv—but she didn’t get there by accident. If you look past her zippy jokes about Lorne Michaels and Tracy Morgan, you will begin to see a common denominator in all of Fey’s stories: work hard and never give up. Her rock-solid work ethic and unbeatable ambition are what vaulted her to the top of the old boys’ club of comedy.
That being said, though, the book is funny. Not just laugh out loud funny, but the laugh out loud, look around on the metro, smile at the businessman next to you, and explain to him how hilarious Tina Fey is kind of funny. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: If you carry this book around, you may end up actually talking to other people—at the very least to recommend it to them.
From tales of her gawky childhood to her painful adolescence to her awkward adulthood, Fey infuses her signature slapdash humor into her life story. She offers priceless life lessons to women in every stage of life: from the usual stuff, like making friends (join summer theater to form a lifelong bond with gays) and dating (never let a boy talk you into going hiking at midnight), to the rather unusual, like breastfeeding (never let the Teat Nazis win) and honeymooning with someone who’s afraid to fly (never leave home without Xanax).
Ed. note: I felt a sense of personal validation during her story about her honeymoon when the ship caught fire and its passengers had to be flown back home. “Most of the people on this ship are afraid to fly,” Fey realizes. “My God: That’s why they’re here. Cruising itself is not actually fun!” I always suspected it, but never wanted to find out for myself.
Those are just a few examples, though. The book is brimming with advice. Fey offers several tips on how to perform improv comedy: never respond with a denial, always agree, and try to add something new. She also offers her beauty tips, including her method for properly applying eye cream that she once shared with Monica Lewinsky, who, according to Fey, was “bright and personable and very open with us—maybe too open for a person in her situation. I’m just saying. Linda Tripp may not have been the intelligence-gathering mastermind you thought she was.”
Fey also offers professional advice to women who want to break barriers in their own careers:
“This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are competition with one another. “You’re up for a promotion. If they go with a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.” Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.
Also, I encourage them to always wear a bra. Even if you don’t think you need it, just… you know what? You’re never going to regret it.”
I could go on, but if I highlighted every line I cracked up at, I’d be copying most of the book. Bossypants is sketch comedy meets memoir—pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a long-time SNL/30 Rock star, delivered perfectly.
I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author. I highly recommend it. Her deadpan delivery keeps the jokes fresh and the narrative earnest. However, I might also recommend getting your own physical copy as well—this is a book I will return to again and again when I need an humorous but inspiring pick-me-up.
Don’t just take my word for it! Buy Bossypants for yourself from an independent bookstore. Each sale from this link helps support Melody & Words.