I rode on a plane over the weekend, and since I love excuses to buy shiny new hardcover books (and I do not love air travel), I got a copy of Tina Fey’s Bossypants to take along. Note to others who might make a similar decision: Bossypants made my trip go by very quickly. It also made me cry tears of laughter, which made the burly dudes on either side of me visibly uncomfortable. You’ve been warned.
In trying to come up with some criticism of Bossypants (with the help of a few other Bitch staffers who read it this weekend fell similarly in love), I’ll just say that I wish there was even more. Though billed as a memoir of sorts, it’s clear that Fey is holding back a little here, keeping an ironic distance from some of the more personal content (she even uses jokey fake names for her husband). The behind-the-scenes work stuff is great (I now dream of becoming Mrs. Alec Baldwin even more fervently than I once did), but you don’t close the book feeling like you *know* Tina Fey any more than you did before. You just have your thoughts about her—assuming that you thought she was a hilarious, charming, witty person—more than confirmed. And you have the chance to view photos like this one of a teenage Tina Fey in a white denim suit, from the section where Fey discusses “becoming a woman” (label added by me):
To avoid a gushing (and boring) fangirldom review of each chapter of the book, I’ve instead rounded up a few excerpts to give you an idea of what it contains and let you decide for yourself whether or not you should run out and buy it (you should). Some choice quotes:
On the increasingly rigid standards of beauty for women:
Now if you’re not “hot,” you are expected to work on it until you are. It’s like when you renovate a house and you’re legally required to leave just one of the original walls standing. If you don’t have a good body, you’d better starve the body you have down to a neutral shape, then bolt on some breast implants, replace your teeth, dye your skin orange, inject your lips, sew on some hair, and call yourself the Playmate of the Year.
How do we survive this? How do we teach our daughters and our gay sons that they are good enough the way they are? We have to lead by example.
On having a busy schedule and meeting Oprah:
Between setups I sat with my daughter on my lap and watched Governor Palin on YouTube and tried to improve my accent. Oprah seemed genuinely concerned for me. ‘How much rehearsal time are you going to get?’ ‘Do you have tapes of her to listen to?’ ‘You’re going there right after this?!’ (By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting that you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.)
On Amy Poehler being a total badass:
Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense [comedy bit] with Seth Meyers across the table and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and ‘unladylike.’
Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, ‘Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.’
Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second and wheeled around on him. ‘I don’t f**king care if you like it.’ Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. Insert penis joke here.)
On turning forty:
I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do.
Now I know I said I’d include the excerpts and let you make up your own mind, but I have to add that from a feminist perspective (hey, that’s what we do around here) Bossypants does not disappoint. While the book is not about feminist or gender politics per se, there is plenty of frank discussion about the high expectations for women in entertainment and how Fey has dealt with them. There is also plenty of frank discussion about the high expectations for women who have children and how Fey has dealt with them. There is also plenty of frank discussion about the high expectations for women who are bosses and how Fey has dealt with them. If you think you might like a book that contains said frank discussions along with plenty of poop jokes, Bossypants is sure to deliver.