Funny is Hard on Paper

Bossypants - Tina Fey

A co-worker of mine was taking out things in his locker, preparing to go home for the day. He placed many of his things on the table close to where I was eating lunch. One of these things was a book. I am always interested in looking at a book, at the very least to determine what it’s subject matter is. I asked him if he thought it was a good book. He told me he loved it, it was hilarious, that he had just let another co-worker borrow it, and would be happy to let me borrow it. Provided I didn’t keep it for three months like she did. I decided what the hell, I was curious enough. And thus, I borrowed his copy of Tina Fey’s Bossypants


I don’t know that much about Tina Fey. What I do know I have learned from pop culture references from entertainment news, like when Huffpost says something about one of her performances. I also learned about her from internet memes. So, what little I do know I respect. However, I have never watched SNL since the early ’90’s and I have never seen one episode of 30 Rock. So, I am not a huge fan, or even a little desk fan perched near by saying, “Good job.” Nope, just curious. So, I borrowed the book that my co-worker said wouldn’t take me but a few days to read. Now, I am done and can say that there are two very different sets of skills involved in writing sketch comedy and humorous prose, and Tina Fey only has one of these sets. 


The book is pretty much an autobiography, not a true one, just chronologically speaking. She moves through her early life to her professional career, but without detail. She only tells stories that would loosely count as anecdotes. Taken as individual stories, they are fine. They are something she might share on Letterman’s couch, or shared in front of the Actor’s Studio audience. When all these little tales of Fey’s life are put together they make little sense, for there is on over all theme. For example, there is a whole chapter on her dad, which shows little. One would expect that this chapter would show clearly how Don Fey played a major role in the development of Tina Fey as a person, or some impact on her career. Unfortunately, you don’t get that. Don is cool, and a Goldwater Republican. Some of this surely influenced Mrs. Fey, but I am not sure how. Does this impact her politics, her sense of fashion?


The book was not completely devoid of humor. However, none of it was ‘laugh out loud’ funny. Most of the stories were cute. A tiny Tina in love with gay boys, like an ’80’s movie, a John Hughes film. A nerdy girl, whose real beauty is hidden behind the wrong clothes and a thick pair of glasses, who stumbles and laughs too much, but at the end is turned into some truly gorgeous creature. They are little tales of a good-geeky girls discovering that the world is a pretty weird and dirty place, like the chapter about pissing jars in offices of writers. There are also some behind the scenes bits from her years at SNL and 30 Rock, but nothing that interesting. The book is not a ‘tell-all’ after all. It does showcase her personality, and it is a pleasant one. I think it would be great to be friends with her.


In conclusion, because any review of this book should be short (it is a very short book) this is a book for fans. Only fans of Mrs. Fey would be truly able to appreciate these small windows into her life. Only true Feynatics would find it at all funny. Anyone outside these two groups is really wasting their time reading this book. I was curious about her after being exposed to all the love for her spread across the internet, but having read her book, I am not rushing about trying to watch 30 Rock. I did gain more respect for her as a person though. While I didn’t laugh much, I am very glad a woman like her is a celebrity and influencing young women and men. So, if you love Tina Fey, or you have some time to kill, and a friend you lets you borrow the book, well, hell, why not?