Review of the Week: Fey leaves readers laughing with ‘Bossypants’

By Laura Hancq
September 13, 2011

While comedian Tina Fey may be best known for her impression of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, her new book, “Bossypants,” is an insightful look into what makes her a standout among so many drab entertainers of our time. In essence, her admirable ability to laugh at her herself.  This quality shines through in her writing to make for a truly enjoyable reading experience that provides sidesplitting laughter and more than a few inspiring life lessons.

“Bossypants” puts into words how Tina Fey has managed to land her dream job and live her life with a laugh-it-off attitude.

While Fey’s book can certainly be considered a coming-of-age story, she does not invoke any holier-than-thou wisdom upon her readers. Instead, she shows how having a certain “brush-it-off-and-laugh” outlook on everything from her incredibly awkward childhood to the roadblocks of being a woman in the male-dominated field, somehow miraculously molded her into the type of person who lands their dream job. Perhaps this is Fey’s most likeable attribute, to this day, she still cannot believe she actually is one of those people who gets paid to make people laugh.

The cover of her book is an airbrushed image of herself with huge, burly, male arms, which depicts how she sees herself in a male-dominated field. From first glance at the cover to reading the very first pages, Fey depicts her life through her hilarious stages of womanhood and how these events define her life and worldviews. She is not, will never be and never wants to be a Hollywood “glamour girl,” which is a viewpoint that is more than refreshing.

While her childhood anecdotes of summer theater camp and the friends that came with it are definitely roll-over funny, the comedic high-point is without a doubt her accounts of her young-adult life, including her tenure at the University of Virginia and her move to Chicago in 1992 to study improvisation at the famous Second City.

Fey’s account of her honeymoon is by far one of the highlights of this book. It is exceptionally funny because it is 100 percent true. Her husband is deathly afraid of flying so she convinces him to go on a cruise and then what do you know, the ship catches fire, their lives are endangered and they end up having to fly home.  She writes, “Oh yes, there’s a ship fire coming in this story. Wait for it.”

As Fey delves into her career with “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” she is not afraid to show her readers all the criticism she has received over the years.  While yes, it hurts when people call you an “ugly, pear-shaped, bitchy, overrated troll,” Fey believes instead of letting it ruin your self-image, it’s better to respond with, “To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair. I’ll leave it for others to say if I’m the best, but I am certainly one of the most dedicated trolls guarding bridges today. I always ask three questions, at least two of which are riddles.”

Fey uses her book to show that at every stage of your life, if you can laugh at yourself, you are going to turn out a lot happier than if you let people get you down. As her very last sentence reads, “Either way, everything will be fine. But if you have an opinion, please feel free to offer it to me through the gap in the door of a public restroom. Everyone else does.”

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Laura Hancq

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