Book Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

To preface I’m not a Tina Fey fan. I don’t mean that in the way that means I dislike her work. I just never locked in to all of that hype around her.

I think that’s a plus when you read a book like Bossypants. The only better position to be in might be to not even know who the person is. A real fan is already going to love the book before they’ve even opened it. I guess I’m just saying all of this to make the point that I am not that person.

I actually picked up the book expecting the traditional comedian’s book of one liners and jokey anecdotes. I’ve read a few of those over the years, from Seinfeld to Woody Allen to Drew Carey. But Fey’s book was something completely different. Hers had weight, the kind of weight that just kind of sneeks up on you so you don’t even have notice it if you don’t want to. I haven’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, but that couldn’t prevent me from thinking repeatedly, this is the book she should have written. Obviously I can’t back that statement up, for all I know, Lean In is exactly the book Sheryl Sandberg should have written, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling.

It’s easy to forget comics of her caliber have to navigate the same cutthroat corporate shark infested waters that people who take the Sandberg path have to. They combat the same barriers, working with people who run interference because of ego or personal ambition, they fight the same battles of sexism and discrimination, of higher ups who don’t seem to have a clue about the troops on the ground. But creatives often do it in a way they make look fun and effortless, with an apparent Mr. Bean-like brilliant oblivion, appearing to scale the barriers effortlessly. The difference is, as friends and foes slip to their dooms, the ones we outsiders pay attention to are the ones who through luck, skill and determination keep their grip and keep climbing.

One reason I never became a fan of Tina Fey’s is because I couldn’t get interested in 30 Rock the couple of times I tuned in. Tina Fey describes the difficulty the writers have had with the show. It’s been a darling to critics yet never really caught on with the mainstream. Everyone seems to know the show but nobody seems to watch it. I think the problem is with the pace. Sometimes it’s just too quick-witted to follow along. To really get it, you have to pay attention. A tough sell in today’s ADD world. I think most of us approach new shows with skepticism, prove you are worthy of my attention and you might get some. After I read her book I started watching on Netflix from the pilot on. I get it now.

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