I will admit that I was skeptical when a friend recommended this book to me, but Bossypants is truly a great read. I think my skepticism stemmed from the frequent ridiculousness of the “celebrity memoir” genre: I am always suspicious of celebrities who claim to have written their own books, because most that I’ve read have a very ghost writer-ly tone to them, like someone else is trying to convincingly write like the celebrity sounds in real life. I can say with confidence that I don’t doubt for a second that Tina Fey herself wrote this book, possibly because she’s perpetually self-deprecating in a way that really only Tina Fey can pull off. For example, in the introduction Fey writes: “Because I am nothing if not an amazing businesswoman, I researched what kind of content makes for bestselling books. It turns out the answer is ‘one-night stands,’ drug addictions, and recipes. Here, we are out of luck. But I can offer you lurid tales of anxiety and cowardice.”
I think this self-deprecation and willingness to poke fun at herself is part of what makes the book so fantastic. Whether discussing her questionable fashion choices in the ’80s, reminiscing about boys who didn’t want to sleep with her in college, or explaining that she rarely appeared in SNL skits because she fails at looking like anyone but herself, she does so with a level of humor that is both irreverent and sassy. She dedicates an entire chapter to responding to particularly heinous things that have been said about her on the internet, and in response to someone who called her an “ugly, pear-shaped, bitchy, overrated troll,” Fey writes:
“I hate for our correspondence to be confrontational, but you have offended me deeply. To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair. I’ll leave it for others to say if I’m the best, but I am certainly one of the most dedicated trolls guarding bridges today. I always ask three questions, at least two of which are riddles.
As for ‘ugly, pear-shaped, and bitchy’? I prefer the terms ‘off-beat, business class-assed, and exhausted,’ but I’ll take what I can get. There’s no such thing as bad press!”
In addition to hilarious stories from her childhood and adult working life, Fey actually addresses some feminist issues and has some serious things to say about them (but of course expresses them in the most hilarious way possible). In one chapter, she dissects the beauty standards imposed on women and after setting forth a laundry list of impossible attributes that women are expected to have, she states “The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes. Everyone else is struggling.” She talks about her experience with the Chicago improv group The Second City and how it was her first experience with the (false) notion that women can’t be as funny as men, and how much she admires Amy Poehler for once telling Jimmy Fallon off when he criticized her for not being cutesy and lady-like. She talks about what it’s like to be a female boss and a working mother and to always be asked how she juggles it all. It’s all really fascinating to read about because Fey is in such a high-profile powerful do-it-all Wonder Woman position, and she seems more baffled at how she doesn’t pull her hair out than anyone else.
If you’re interested in stories of awkward youth, being in danger of possibly being shipwrecked on your honeymoon, discovering that your male co-workers like to keep jars of their own urine in their offices, or Fey’s infamous Sarah Palin sketches, then to you I say: read this book.