by Tina Fey
November 21, 2013
I have a confession. It's something that distanced me from my peers in middle school, and interfered with my ability to make friends. It's not something that I tell a lot of people.
I don't really like Saturday Night Live. It's possible that I straight up don't like it at all. There have been some funny skits here and there, but it's largely just uninteresting to me. I feel the same way about all of the movies that have been made by and with SNL alum, including anything with Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, or Adam Sandler. I also have no use for South Park, which my friends have all been obsessed with since middle school.
Lest you think I completely hate fun, I assure you that I do watch and love and quote The Simpsons like any self-respecting Millennial.
At some point, though, somebody forced me to sit down and watch 30 Rock and, to my enormous surprise, I liked it. It's clever and funny and random, but most of all, good-hearted. It's not a mean show. So, I watch 30 Rock and The Office and maybe one of these days I'll take a chance on The Mindy Project and then I will have comedy mojo.
None of that is why I picked up Bossypants, though. I picked up Bossypants because Buzzfeed.com put it in a list of "65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s," and I'd gotten all the way to age 31 without reading most of them, and was concerned that maybe I had missed something important. Other than cultural literacy, I mean.
I admit I didn't like Bossypants much at first. I wasn't opposed, didn't dislike it, but didn't respond to it. But it grew on me. I think most of this is just that I'm plain more interested in Tina Fey's adulthood and current philosophies than I am with anything that she did as a child. But the other part is the we never really hear from Childhood Tina. We hear from Adult Tina, talking in Adult Tina's voice, about Childhood Tina. And as a result, I didn't feel like I knew Childhood Tina very well, and didn't really care much when she got left behind and we transitioned to Adult Tina. In the latter half of the book, we get to hear both from Adult Tina and about Adult Tina, and the whole character of the narrative changes for the better. Also, I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes looks at TV shows and movies and things (I am the person who always listens to DVD audio commentary and watches the "Making Of" featurette). It also just started being funnier as her voice grew on me--right around the time when, to preserve his anonymity, Fey gives her husband a different alias every time he's mentioned in the chapter about their honeymoon. (Conversely, she refers to her daughter as "my daughter" through 80% of the book, and then starts suddenly referring to her by name with no qualifying introduction, so keep that in mind and just make the inference you think you should be making.) I also appreciated her advice, specifically: if you are put in charge of hiring creative people and you need to work with those people for 80 hours a week, pick the people who are least likely to go crazy and punch you in the face (related: If you're hoping to get hired to do something creative for 80 hours a week, don't come across as the kind of person who will go crazy and start punching people in the face. You may be a genius, but that doesn't matter once you start hitting).
There is also a word that you should remember: blorft. It means "Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum." Thank you, Tina Fey, for giving a name to that feeling, for that I will be forever grateful.
So. Life changing? Nah. Best book ever? Not really (even if I'd been a huge Tina Fey or SNL fan going in, I don't think that I would think that). Worth reading? Sure. Funny? Yes.
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