I would say that I am rather familiar with Tina Fey’s work and I would declare myself quite a fan of her talent. From watching her in Mean Girls on the big screen and laughing at her hilarious Sarah Palin impressions to officially making Date Night one of the top five movies to make me laugh so hard I had tears streaming down my face — she is indeed amazing. So how is her New York Times best-selling book Bossypants? Well, a good book is in the eye of the reader, but here's my take on it.
I have never had the fortune of meeting Tina Fey, but if there is one thing I have learned from her, it is that you can be funny even with a serious face. In several of her roles, her characters tend to be conservatively dressed and even librarian-like (no pun intended) at times, with well-coiffed hair and an overall polished look. Yet she can make one laugh through mere gestures, use of humorous tonality, and an adorable innocence. Therefore, when I started reading her book, this is what I expected — humour mixed with a dash of innocent honesty and mockery.
When I started reading the book, the Tina Fey from 30 Rock soon showed another side of herself. In her defense, the book is called "Bossypants," implying the presence of sass.
WHAT KIND OF BOOK IS THIS?
Bossypants is a biography, yes, but Fey also discusses some of the lessons she's learned in life that, from time to time, are presented as a “How-to" or "F.A.Q. guide” — not meant to be taken too seriously of course. Fey discusses topics such as the way she was brought up (I loved the stories about her dad), her road to stardom, her horrible honeymoon trip, and beauty tips she’s shared with Monica Lewinsky. Whether you like this book or not really all depends on your sense of humor, although I do believe it is safe to say that if you're a fan of Saturday Night Live in particular, you may really appreciate Bossypants.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE CRINGE?
The truth is, when Fey is speaking of her childhood and teen years, her tone at times seems brash. Some people who read this may feel refreshed in that she was indeed a “bossypants” who often was giving people a swift kick in the pants when she felt it was necessary. She was a tough cookie for sure, oozing with smart alec ways and blunt but honest opinions while on a mission against ignorance. At the same time, some of her comments and bouts of sarcasm, as well as sensitive topics like race and homosexuality, may turn some people off and perceive her to be bratty.
Now, I know I’ve praised Chelsea Handler for the very same characteristics, but I think that’s because anyone who’s watched Chelsea knows that’s what she’s all about, being a little “crazy” and wild. With Fey, I guess I had a preconceived notion of her being a bit sweeter, and so I couldn’t really picture her saying or doing some of the things she’s done. Nonetheless, Fey's tone and actions do become more mature through the pages as she does through the years. I especially enjoyed her speaking of her years at Saturday Night Live, where she takes on a more calm, positive, and humble tone. It’s also fun hearing about her fellow cast members, many of whom a lot of us may actually be familiar with, including Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids — great movie by the way), Will Ferrell (Step Brothers), and Jimmy Fallon (Whip It).
BOOK COVER ... It is clever, creative, and catchy. Fey with middle aged hairy man arms? Brilliant! It certainly lets you know that you’re in for jokes galore.
P.S. I caught a lot of people eyeing this book as I toted it around the Library.
BEEN THERE ...
Just about everyone can relate to at least one of her stories. She speaks about her job at the YMCA and working with absurd characters, from its staff to her clients. She pokes fun of the awkwardness of not meeting society's definition of beauty during her teen years, of being a professional in a man's world (and then some), and the pièce de résistance ... life in NYC, including the absurd conversations or “therapy sessions” that people have when out in public. We as New Yorkers can find ourselves knowing exactly what she’s talking about.
PICTURE IMPERFECT ...
One of my favorite parts in the book, believe or not, were the pictures. It is one thing to hear a description of a shag haircut from back in the day, but it is quite another thing to see Fey with one in her middle school picture. Being told a funny story about one of life's awkward moments and having the picture to prove such moments ever existed is simply laugh-out-loud funny, especially when it's Fey. She just has one of those faces that make you say, "Wow. She had no idea how bad she looked when she was posing for this huh?" Let's face it, a fashion faux pas is the worst and we are all guilty of having such incriminating pictures. But the great part about Fey is that she is willing to let us make fun of her all in good fun, and you have to admire that.
CON (for people under 30):
I will say that the only thing I struggled with was her constant reference to iconic figures in an attempt to paint a better picture of some of the individuals she introduces to us. Personally speaking, I am a big fan of this because again, it's one thing to give a description but it's even better to compare a person's physical looks or personality to a famous person, so that we may better understand the story we're being told. Unfortunately, I had no idea who she was talking about most of the time, and I have a feeling that hardly anyone under the age of 30 would know either. For example, she mentions a person she dated that looked like Robert Wuhl. I had no idea who this was until I did a Google image search, and then I realized it was the actor from Batman, which I've watched a million times. Who knew?
FAVE TINA FEY BOSSYPANTS QUOTE:
If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty. ”Who cares?” (Fey, 114).
All in all, Bossypants did provide me with smiles, laughs, and even inspiration. I liked the book and I still say Fey is amazing, but I like her acting and big screen writing a tad bit more. Regardless, if you are the least bit curious about Fey or what lies beyond the funny looking cover, I say go for it, and enjoy!