Tina Fey is a boss in the truest sense of the word.
Witty, honest and sardonic, Fey epitomizes the role perfectly in her memoir, “Bossypants.”
When beloved comedy icons like Fey announce they’re writing a memoir, unjustified fears that the book will be drenched in self-promotion or worse, take a nose dive into stilted, never-before-seen seriousness quickly emerge. But to those who doubted Fey’s ability to translate her deadpan funny to the parchment sheets of “Bossypants,” I say shame on you. Has “Saturday Night Live” taught you nothing? Of course this will be hilarious, it’s Tina Fey — the woman who declared, “Bitch is the new black.”
It may not be the comedic oeuvre displayed in the same vein of the Sedaris family narrative, but it is still a worthy glimpse into the comedic genius of the mother of “30 Rock” and retired “SNL” funny lady.
Straying slightly from the typical memoir mold, Fey touches on everything from her duties as “30 Rock” boss, her expectations as a female comedian breaking into a traditionally male-dominated field, her stint as caribou-Barbie Sarah Palin to her candid musings on motherhood. Essentially, Fey verifies what fans already knew — she’s a talented writer and comedian who has deftly mastered the skill of fierce delivery.
Somewhat haphazard in its chronological organization, Fey begins with childhood anecdotes and intelligently guides the reader with her classic heartfelt humor all the way through her present tribulations juggling motherhood and being a boss.
The misadventures in adolescence she divulges are admittedly pathetic at times, but her cynical humor and inherent ability to transform any situation, as sad as it may initially come off to the reader, into a witty and hilarious narrative make Tina Fey the eternal champion for awkward nerdy girls everywhere.
“That’s Don Fey,” perhaps the funniest chapter in the book, is an affectionate description of her father. She refers to him in his full moniker throughout the entire memoir continually relating stories that reinforce the anecdotal description that Don Fey is indeed a “boss, bold, bladed motherfucker.”
Apparently the boss factor runs in the Fey genes.
Prevalent throughout the entire 275-page opus is her consistent reiteration of women’s place in comedy and in her case, a women’s position as the boss. Though the issue is told through Fey’s signature cynical, yet triumphant voice, it is dealt with a delicate amount of earnestness.
The first reference begins when she details her experiences at The Second City improv and sketch comedy theater in Chicago where she initially nursed her comedy prowess and encountered the hint that funny, talented women still receive a measure of doubt from skeptical producers.
Fey writes, “Of all the places I’ve worked that were supposedly boys’ clubs, The Second City was the only one where I experienced institutionalized gender nonsense. For example, a director of one of the main companies once justified cutting a scene by saying, ‘The audience doesn’t want to see a scene between two women.’ Whaaa?”
If you’re rolling your eyes at the prospect of “Bossypants” morphing into a twisted feminist tirade — think again. Unapologetic in her classic, brash honesty, Fey doesn’t cloak the fact that women’s careers in showbiz often end when they attempt to overstay their welcome and must deal with being branded “crazy” for lasting past their prime.
“I’ve known older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all ‘crazy’,” Fey writes. “I have a suspicion that the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”
So if you picked up “Bossypants” in search of Fey’s retort to a rumored industry mentality, Fey fails to disappoint in her assessment as if to say, “You asked for it.”
When it comes to other “feminist” matters like body image and the perennial Photoshop debate, Fey once again offers a sharp-witted comeback to those decrying the magazine industry’s penchant for Photoshop as the sole reason America possesses a crippled body image.
“As long as we all know it’s fake, it’s no more dangerous to society than a radio broadcast of ‘The War of the Worlds.’”
“Bossypants” offers readers a laugh-out-loud sketch of Fey’s personality and the journey she’s taken to becoming a boss. With a glimpse into her intense work ethic and her numerous bouts of stress-induced chin acne, it’s amazing Fey hasn’t surrendered to the pressure.
Then again, bitches like Tina Fey get stuff done, and that’s why we love her.
5 out 5 stars