Note: if you are someone who enjoys audio books -- heck, even if you aren't -- then I highly recommend that you listen to the audiobook instead of (or in addition to!) reading the physical paper book of Bossypants. It's unabridged and Tina Fey herself reads it... I imagine the text would all be funny in print, too, but she frequently kicks in to actress mode and/or does voices. It's very very worth it.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what Bossypants was about when I purchased it. I only knew it was by Tina Fey and everyone seemed to be in a tizzy about it. So with a round trip bus ride to Boston in my immediate future, I went to Audible and bought what I knew would be an entertaining listen. I certainly wasn't disappointed, though I wouldn't use terms like "hysterical" or "riotous" to describe the funny collection of essays of which Bossypants is comprised. I snickered enough to get some looks on the bus, but I never really burst out laughing. If you've ever seen 30 Rock, then I think you know the style of humor that you're in for. Having not seen 30 Rock prior to listening, I still kind of knew. The ridiculous mixed with the so-real-it's-funny-but-also-kind-of-hurts.
Bossypants isn't strictly a humor book -- there's a reason it's in the memoir section. Consider this a collection of vignettes from Fey's life, ranging from her own childhood to motherhood. Snippets from behind the scenes on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live were amusing. Perhaps my favorite simple observation was that when everyone started commenting on what a good Sarah Palin she would be, she realized no one (of the general public, that is) knew she has a new show and was no longer working on SNL. That said, her comments and observations on McCain and Palin are very interesting, indeed! In addition, Fey's perspective as one of the few high-profile comediennes out there puts her in an interesting position. Her feminist commentary on the state of the industry and the gender roles of comedy are fascinating and definitely became my favorite parts of the book. Here's one particularly fantastic selection featuring Amy Poelher:
Amy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers’ room, waiting for the Wednesday read-through to start. There were always a lot of noisy “comedy bits” going on in that room. Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and “unladylike.”
Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.”
Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. Insert penis joke here.)
With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.
I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, “My friend is here! My friend is here!” Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.
I think of this whenever someone says to me, “Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny, or “Christopher Hitchens says women aren’t funny,” or “Rick Fenderman says women aren’t funny…Do you have anything to say to that?”
Yes. We don’t fucking care if you like it.
I don’t say it out loud of course, because Jerry Lewis is a great philanthropist. Hitchens is very sick, and the third guy I made up.
Unless one of these men is my boss, which none of them is, it’s irrelevant. My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.
If you're a fan of Tina Fey, then you've probably already read Bossypants by now, so I'm not going to spend time convincing you to read it. (Though you should go listen to the audiobook if you missed out.) If you're not already a fan of Fey, then this could very well push you in to the camp of a very funny lady... but more than just being a funny lady, Fey is a very smart person. When those two traits are combined in to one slightly awkward person? Well, then you have quite a force to be reckoned with in comedy and social commentary. Do yourself a favor and read (or listen!!) -- you won't regret it.