I borrowed Bossypants by Tina Fey from a friend I met in improv. I read the book rapidly, even though it was the holidays. I like the essay nature of recently written memoirs. It’s nice to come to the end of a chapter and be able to set it aside to finish doing dishes without anxiety about stopping in a good place. . . . I have issues. Overall, I thought it was good writing, clever, and had some really funny stories.
Bossypants is Tina Fey’s autobiography/memoirs. Tina Fey is an actor, writer, and comedian best known for her work on SNL, impressions of Sarah Palin, and her show 30 Rock. Tina was a huge nerd growing up, often involved in community plays and productions. She worked at Second City doing improv tours until she started writing on SNL. Eventually she began acting on SNL which led to her production of 30 Rock, a show about putting on a comedy sketch show, with bigger than life characters such as Tracey Morgan, Jenna Maroney, and Jack Donaghy.
I enjoyed all of the stories that Tina told, from her understanding that gay men are not just around to make straight virgin theater girls laugh to her tale about her honeymoon cruise ship catching on fire. I was, of course, intensely interested in her improv career and laughed my way through those stories. I took special note of her rules for improv and life, which hang on a huge banner at Second City where I take classes. I especially paid attention to the part where she talks about making statements instead of questions. Something my mother also harps on me about, as she points out women have been taught or socialized to make even their statements sound like questions. Tina has a lot of good life lessons in among the humor and it was a thought provoking read.
Bossypants is full of warmth and humor and some really wonderful quotes. The one thing I wish was more prevalent in the book is some vulnerability. We read nearly everything about the scar on her face except the emotion behind the incident. In fact, the portion of the book devoted to the subject is merely a paragraph and doesn’t ever say what really happened. Perhaps, rightly so. But I’m not sure why she would bring up the subject of her scar and then not talk about her emotions about the incident, what it felt like growing up with a noticeable scar, or how she feels when people ask her about it. She just talks humorously about types of people and how they react to her scar, but she doesn’t go the step beyond the humor to the vulnerability about what that means for her emotionally. I know from experience, it is hard being vulnerable. I think many comedians tell stories to make people laugh so they don’t have to be vulnerable about something that hurt them.
A funny read, Bossypants will make you laugh and it will make you think. Tina Fey proves once again she is an excellent writer, and her life experience have provided her with many interesting and humorous tales.
You can watch an interview of Tina Fey talking about the rules of improv below. The clip is over an hour long, but the beginning few minutes are where she talks about it.