Ally’s #4: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Growing up, my mom used to tell me I was bossy. You know what I told her? “I’m not bossy, I’m assertive!” Assertive has a more positive connotation, don’t you think?

The title of this book appealed to my bossy side, and the fact that it was written by Tina Fey appealed to my sense of humor. I wasn’t really sure what it was about when I checked it out from the library, because even the information on the cover was a joke.

Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.

I read the book in a single sitting. That is not a reflection of how amazing of a reader I am, but rather how meaningless the content was. Not to say that Tina Fey’s life is meaningless–clearly she was put here on earth to give the best Sarah Palin impersonation ever.

The first 100 pages of the book are funny, often vulgar, anecdotes about Tina’s childhood, adolescence, college days, first job, and marriage. Everything is a joke. Everything. Her writing only shows a hint of seriousness in the latter 150 pages, where she talks about her career and what its like to be a writer at SNL, to be a working mom, and to write/act on 30 Rock. The 25 pages in between these two sections are pure randomness. This is from her “Twelve Tenets of Looking Amazing Forever”:

#4: Don’t Be Afraid to Try “Outside the Box” Skin Care Solutions

I spent most of 1990 bargaining with God that I would take one gigantic lifelong back zit in exchange for clear skin on my face. While this never worked out, I do not at all regret the time I spent pursuing it. It’s about the journey, people.

My favorite chapter of the book was about her dad, Don Fey. She approached it in a very lighthearted and sarcastic way, but it demonstrated a deep respect, appreciation for, and healthy fear of her father. It struck a chord with me because I, too, have a dad that I both loved and feared growing up. His name is Walt. Don’t mess with Walt. He protects me ferociously and can yell like a grizzly bear.

My dad has visited me at work over the years, and I’ve noticed that powerful men react to him in a weird way. They ‘stand down.’ The first time Lorne Michaels met my dad, he said afterward, ‘Your father is…impressive.’ They meet Don Fey and it rearranges something in their brain about me. Alec Baldwin took a long look at him and gave him a firm handshake. ‘This is your dad, huh?’ What are they realizing? I wonder. That they’d better never mess with me, or Don Fey will yell at them? That I have high expectations for the men in my life because I have a strong father figure?

I think I would have enjoyed the second half of the book more if I was a person deeply interested in sketch comedy, writing, show biz, etc. It was cool to hear her perspective, but I found myself reading it all quietly, while the first half of the book had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions.

I appreciate Tina for her ability to tell a story in a hilarious way. Did the book make me laugh? Yes. Was I personally enriched by it? Probably not. Would I let a high-schooler read it? Absolutely not.

I will leave you with “The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat”:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying ‘Don’t ask questions all the time.’ THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel.

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