Friday, October 21, 2011

Funny Girl: A Review of Tina Fey’s Memoir ‘Bossypants’

By Chip Schrader
Book Reviewer
Tina Fey started off as an actress on television ads. She eventually landed a spot on Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, a move that evolved into Fey taking the seat of greats Chevy Chase, Kevin Nealon, and Dennis Miller as the anchor of the SNL news. Now, she has her own show, 30 Rock – a parody of the behind the scenes antics of Saturday Night Live – a movie career, and a hilarious memoir “Bossypants.”
“Bossypants” begins with Tina’s childhood, a surprise pregnancy, puberty, her father’s mild racism, and Summer Showtime. Summer Showtime highlights Fey’s coming of age in this teenage theater group where she catches the actor’s bug, and her friend comes out of the closet at a grand party that ends the summer. From these experiences she learns, “Gay people were made that way by God, but not solely for my entertainment.” A perfect example of Fey’s no holds barred documentation of her life.
As her star rose, Fey became an unwitting glamour icon. She unravels the sense of irony she feels with the light in which the public sees her. Chock full of blemishes, imperfections, and earthly human habits, Fey charms women readers proving she is just one of them, and male readers that there is a Tina Fey in very man’s wife.
Her recollections of the magazine photo shoots, adoring and snarky fan letters, awkward adolescence and motherhood dispels any myth of beauty one might hold of her. However, perhaps intentionally, Fey’s assessments of her self-image reinforce the deeper beauty of modesty and humanity with which she is truly gifted.
The only sure bet out there rests in the fact that nobody can get through “Bossypants” without emitting at least one hearty belly laugh between every five or so pages. She covers the challenges and pitfalls of working with men – particularly comedians with fixations on bodily functions – she has a memorable chapter of fashion advice for her daughter, and lets us in on the showbiz secrets and the Sarah Palin spoofs that made her a household name.
“Bossypants” is sharply written, and as the author, Fey is well aware of the phrase “too much information,” and relishes her disregard of the social mores that inspired the phrase. The anecdotes all seem to have a punch line, which to less gifted people can grow wearisome, but Fey is the funniest woman on earth.
Some chapters are straight ahead anecdotes and retellings of her life’s events, and others are checklists, script snippets, and outlines of witty observations and lessons she has learned in an ordinary woman’s extraordinary life. The honesty that anchors her humor is what makes her a winner. She is not afraid to admit to who she is, and she is a bold role model for any “Sarah plain and tall” who aspires to something greater. The candor, wit, humility, and finely crafted and inventive narrative make “Bossypants” a winner.
288 Pages, Reagan Arthur Books; 1st Edition (April 5, 2011).
Photo caption: (Courtesy book cover image)