17 February 2012

Review 14: Bossypants by Tina Fey

"I reached under the bed for the whiskey bottle. Little freckles of blood dotted the sheets under my shoulder. Oh God, another tattoo? I pulled at my skin 'til I could see the twisted ink. It was the Chinese word for 'Celtic symbol'... is just a brief example of what you will not find in this book! 'What's your deal? asked Anthony Kiedis as he stroked my cheek... with a Wheat Thin. 'I'm a writer,' I said, sounding more like a little girl than I wanted to. It was that night that I had the idea for Avatar.... is neither true nor in this book! But it is a product placement for Wheat Thins!"

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this. I had really high expectations, which was probably part of the problem but it just didn't make me laugh. It made me smile and I liked it but against all the reviews saying it was laugh out loud funny, it just wasn't for me. I read Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman last year and for me, that was the better in the autobiography with comments on feminism and life category. However, Fey is very readable and very likeable and I did enjoy reading it but more because it was interesting likeable than because it was funny.

First Line: 'Welcome friend, congratulations on your purchase of this American-made genuine book.'

This charts Fey's life from school to the present and revolves around anecdotal stories of being female and/or working in comedy. I enjoyed the parts about SNL in particular, despite never having seen an episode. I'm British but reckon I'm pretty aware of American pop culture for a Brit due to reading an awful lot of American websites, such as our own Pajiba. So I know how SNL works, I know the people involved with it and I have seen some of the skits on YouTube despite never watching it. Equally, I have seen bits of 30 Rock, albeit on DVD months and months after it is broadcast. I feel I should say, and this probably explains my opinions of Bossypants, that I'm not a massive fan of 30 Rock. I have heard that it gets better in future series but I got bored watching the first series, and didn't finish it despite liking bits of it. So maybe ultimately, this just isn't my sense of humour. I get the jokes, they just don't make me laugh. Which is why what this reading experience really reminded me of was Terry Pratchett. I don't mind Pratchett and I occasionally enjoy his books but I see the jokes coming and whilst appreciating them objectively, they just don't make me laugh out loud. I felt like it was too obvious the way Fey kept setting up jokes and the payoff was a little inevitable. Maybe as well I had read too many reviews speaking of constant laughter that there was just no way it could live up to my expectations. The aforementioned Caitlin Moran autobiography had me cackling away to myself on my lunchbreak and was packed with moments that really resonated with me. Bossypants isn't quite the same thing - How to Be a Woman is much more overtly about feminism and the broad experiences of all women, grounded in Moran's life whereas Bossypants is a lot more personal to Fey but there was little that I could sympathise with here. I'm not sure the American/British sense of humour thing comes in to play at all (Terry Pratchett is British anyway) but maybe thats it - the humour and the experiences are just more in tune with my own. The blurb posted at the start of this is pretty indicative of the humour and it's trying a bit too hard for my liking.

I did enjoy reading it though - it's a very quick read and I have always found Fey appealing, probably primarily because of Mean Girls (I would have loved to read more about Mean Girls than the sentence or two that is included). I liked reading about her impersonation of Sarah Palin. She comes across very likeable, not that I've seen her ever come across as anything other than likeable and I enjoyed her honesty about various situations - although surely honesty is a bit of a must for a successful autobiography. I'm sure fans of hers would enjoy reading more details about her time at SNL and 30 Rock. On a completely different note, I really didn't like the paperback cover. I like the image of Fey but I hated the cheap looking orange background and the title being in italics.

In summary, this was a quick fun read, but it made me smile, not laugh and I was hoping for something a little more laugh out loud entertaining. Interesting and likeable but not my favourite autobiography - the jokes were a bit too obvious and punny for my tastes and I had little to emotionally sympathise with due to her life experiences being pretty foreign from my own.


  1. I read this shortly after mindy kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and while they are different, I felt like kaling's was somehow more intimate or chatty, and kind of preferred it to Fey's book.

    1. Mindy Kaling's book is definitely on my to-read list but I waiting until it comes out in paperback.

  2. I loved this book A LOT. I don't think 30 Rock is that funny and I'm not a huge SNL fan either, so I don't have a favorable biased towards Tina Fey to begin with. But I thought this book was laugh out loud funny - I was squeaking tears at one point. This could be because I'm a teenager and Fey's sense of humor is highly appealing to my generation. When I read her writing, it feels like I'm listening to another person my age.

  3. Interesting! I keep running into this book at the Barnes & Noble that I work at, but I hadn't quite decided whether I wanted to read it or not. I think I shall now, though! Your review sounds great! ;)