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Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”

I was looking for a book that was entertaining and fast–“Bossypants” by Tina Fey was perfect on both counts. And really, I just like saying (and writing) “Bossypants.”

I haven’t watched “Saturday Night LIve” for years, and I don’t watch “30 Rock” so I wasn’t familiar with many of the people and events that Fey describes here. I know her because of her spot-on portrayals of Sarah Palin. Even so, I found this book interesting and amusing.

Fey tells her story fairly chronologically, including mostly the bits that are funny on their own or funny when she gets her hands on them. She plays fair, in that she laughs at herself plenty. This isn’t the place to go for who-what-when-where-why information. This is more a series of stories that might be shared over coffee or wine with a group of friends, stories that create connections whether they happened in Nebraska or New Jersey.

When she does turn a more serious eye on her life story, it’s often in situations where sexism arises, or where power is exploited, or when pressure about attractiveness becomes overpowering (or just silly). These observations keep her book from being more than just a romp.

Her rise in Chicago’s The Second City improvisation theater led her to submit material to “Saturday Night Live.” There she became a writer and appeared on the “Weekend Update” news parody. Her observations about those work environments are interesting partly for their celebrity tidbits. What comes before actually is also plenty of fun–her descriptions of working at the YMCA checkin window when she was just out of college.

Fey doesn’t take much of the celebrity life for granted, and so her observations of photo shoots, of being recognized, and of receiving both hate mail, stay fresh. It seems like she just can’t keep herself from being funny.

I’ll recommend this to plenty of people. In fact, it’s taking me a moment to think of which people wouldn’t like it. It’s clear going in that this is a funny book by a woman who’s made it big acting and writing in TV comedy. She hits her stride, and even while inspiring plenty of laughing out loud, reveals enough to show that success didn’t come all at once and that she recognizes that it could have gone much differently. But what’s funny (and not funny ha-ha) about humor is that some people can’t see the humor when someone else is doubling over in laughter. It’s not a sure thing. So this could be an adventure in reading for some, and in the interests of tasting from many pots, I’m recommending “Bossypants.”

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