Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tina in Charge: A Review of Bossypants by Tina Fey

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Little Stranger, Inc. (2011)
Pages: 277
Challenges: 2011 GoodReads Reading Challenge
How I Came by This Book: I had seen this book on a lot of blogs that I followed and it seemed interesting. I’m not a huge fan of SNL but I find Tina Fey to be hilarious, so I checked it out of the library.

About the Author: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, in 1970 to Donald and Jeannec Fey. Going by the name of Tina, Ms. Fey considered herself a "supernerd" during her high school and college years. She studied drama at the University of Virginia, and after graduating in 1992, she headed to Chicago, the ancestral home of American comedy. While working at a YMCA to support herself, she started Second City's first set of courses. After about nine months, a teacher told her to just skip ahead and audition for the more selective Second City Training Center. She failed but about eight weeks later, she re-auditioned and got into the year-long program. She ended up spending many years at The Second City in Chicago where many SNL cast members first started out. Then in 1995, "Saturday Night Live" (1975) came to The Second City's cast, including Fey's friend, Adam McKay, as a writer, searching for new talent. What they found was Tina Fey. When Adam was made Head writer, he suggested Fey should send a submission packet over the summer with six sketches, 10 pages each. Tina took the advice and sent them. After Lorne Michaels met her and saw her work she was offered a job a week later. She admitted that she was extremely nervous working in the legendary Studio 8H; being a foot shorter than everyone else, younger, and being one of the only female writers at the time. After a few years, Tina made history by becoming the first female head writer in the show's history. Tina also made her screen debut as a featured player during the 25th season by co-anchoring Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon. Since Tina and Jimmy have taken over Weekend Update it has been considered the best ever. This year she made it to full fledged star by becoming a regular cast member, though she is hardly on the show, besides Update. And during the past two summers, Tina and Rachel Dratch performed their two-woman show to critical acclaim in both Chicago (1999) and New York (2000) and made their Aspen Comedy Festival Debut. Tina is married to Jeff Richmond, a Second City director and currently lives in New York City. (from IMDb)

Synopsis: Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breast-feeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

Review: This book was not at all what I expected—and not in a good way. Tina Fey is a funny woman, one who has managed to make us laugh at everything from politics to bullying in school. Yet, as I was reading Bossypants, I couldn’t help but be bored. As I can’t really relate to things like parenthood or breast-feeding, I felt that I was out of the loop when it came to a lot of this book. I’m guessing I’m not the only guy who felt that way.

Bossypants is funny, but it’s inconsistently so. My mother tried reading it before I did and told me that she had ended up putting it down less than half-way through. If it weren’t that I was determined to write a review, I probably would have as well. I laughed from time to time, but on the whole I found it to be sort of…blah. She’s a decent writer, but I guess I thought that a book by one of the queens of comedy would be a lot more entertaining.

There were some parts that were interesting, especially Fey’s commentary on the boys’ club of comedy and her struggles to prove to Saturday Night Live’s writers that women could be just as funny. I also found some of what she had to say about fame and celebrity to be worth picking up the book for, but a lot of the time it seemed like an excuse to name drop or complain. These, among others, are parts of her life that I didn’t mind reading about. But periods and breast-feeding? Not so much.

I guess my issue is that much of Fey’s book is somewhat inaccessible to the male population. I’m all for gender equality and I’m a huge opponent of discrimination against women, so I’m not saying that every book should be readable by every facet of society. All I’m saying is that this is a book that women would probably enjoy more than men (my mother not withstanding).

While I hate writing such a short review, I don’t have much to say about Bossypants. I’m guessing that a lot of people are going to disagree with what I’ve written here, and that’s fine. For me, though, this is a book that I wouldn’t pick up again.

I’m giving Bossypants 3 out of 5 Gabriels.



  1. I don't think a lot of people will disagree with you. All of the reviews I've read have been disappointed with the book and I haven't found a single review that sings its praises. However, i haven't read every review so there may very well be one out there, somewhere.

  2. Oh, I was looking forward to this. Unlike Satia, I've only heard good things! But I haven't read any in-depth reviews, it was mostly passing comments by writers, reviewers, podcasters etc who mentioned liking it and then maybe a minute or two of breakdown. I'll probably still read it but maybe I'll stick to hiring it from the library.

  3. Satia: As with most books I plan to read, I avoided reading reviews so as not to tint my own eventual review. I may read some just to see how others felt about. My review was less than stellar (and I mean that in the "it-was-a-crap-review" way) so I'd be interested in what others wrote.

    Kayleigh: I've taken to borrowing books from the library regardless of whether I think I'll like them or not. I've already run out of room for the books I have!

  4. I had no idea she had a book. It is the perfect combination: books and Tina. I think I may buy it for this summer, light readings.