When I put this on reserve at my local library, I was #30 on the list so I was quite surprised when I got a notice it was in for me last Tuesday. Not so surprising after all, since I read it in about two days. It was a blast and I enjoyed every minute.
Bossypants isn’t so much a biography as it is a philosophical review of Tina Fey’s life and how she got to be the person she is. My family and I were living in England when Fey was writing and doing Weekend Update on SNL, so I wasn’t very aware of her till about the third season of 30 Rock, which is now one of my all time favorite shows. I knew who she was, but I didn’t know anything about her.
I’m glad I got to fill in the blanks. I really appreciate a woman who can feel comfortable being who she is, likes being thought of as “funny” and doesn’t apologize or dissemble for being a great manager and organizer too. Bossypants takes the time to break down reasons why it’s so hard for women to be successful and rewarded for being all of those things at the same time. She posits that most of the time men don’t even have to try to be good at more than one thing and they can usually make boatloads of money doing just the one thing they are good at. Women usually have to be good at lots of things to get recognition and success. I’m not sure that’s exactly what Fey was getting at, but honestly that was my takeaway.
Fey is funny, smart, well-educated and just wacky enough to have been able to evade a boring life. She is generous with praise for those she works with and we understand that Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and all the others are crazy like foxes to let her bring them into her world. We should be so lucky. Fey is not shy about admitting that she has a great life and a wonderful job with amazing benefits. Not once does she come off as being ungrateful or egotistical about any of it. She makes no secret that she worked really, really hard to get where she is today and yes, her life is different, but she also acknowledges that there are trade-offs to everything and if she didn’t love her job, her staff, her co-stars, and her mentors she would be just as happy to do something else. It’s not all glamourous photo shoots and drinks at Gramercy Tavern.
Fey points out that funny men tend to come from crazy, weird, unusual life circumstances and their ability to channel the crazy is what makes them successful and popular comedians. For women, it’s the good girls, the observant, intuitive, canny and clever ones that stand above the crowd. If I could only bring the funny, I’d be in like flint but that elusive human comedic quality is what makes me really love Tina Fey just that much more.