Book Review: Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS

Tina Fey’s essays on everything from girlhood rites of passage (such as “men-stru-hating”) to her days at Saturday Night Live and her struggles as a working mom are laugh-out-loud funny, but many of the details also come startlingly close to my own experiences. For example, she talks about trying to kiss a guy in front of the Monroe Hill dorms at the University of Virginia, making him run away from her. I lived at Monroe Hill while attending UVA and made a guy run away just by telling him I liked him. She says her go-to look in college was bicycle shorts with wrestling shoes, while I thought I was cool in bike shorts and jazz shoes. She played with Star Wars action figures, studied at Second City, and did touring shows. Check, check, and check for me, too.

But make no mistake—I am NOT comparing myself to Fey (who can?); I’m simply explaining her appeal to me and many people I know. She comes across like your witty and nerdy best friend, someone who doesn’t make you feel inadequate about how she’s a superwoman and you’re not. And while she’s making you laugh, she’s also slipping in wise nuggets like how the rules of improv can make good life philosophy:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun, ” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger…,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt…Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But…at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you…

The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS…If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here?…” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person…Instead of saying, “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” Okay, “Here we are in Spain, Dracula” may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:

THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.

Fey manages to convey a sense of gratefulness for her life while maintaining it isn’t easy, that she gets stress-induced canker sores just trying to decide if she has time for a second baby because two hundred people on the 30 Rock cast and crew depend on her for employment. (She must have figured it out because she’s now pregnant.) Just like her OB-GYN says to her in the book, “Either way, everything will be fine,” Bossypants makes you feel that way, too.

Nerd verdict: Bossypants rules

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Christine
    April 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for this, Elyse! This would be a good audiobook, if she’s doing the reading.

    • Reply
      le0pard13
      April 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Yep, she is. This will be the way I will go, Christine.

      • Reply
        Christine
        April 18, 2011 at 10:55 am

        Sweet! Thank you, Michael. 🙂

      • Reply
        Pop Culture Nerd
        April 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

        Thanks for that link, le0.

  • Reply
    bookspersonally
    April 18, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Great review, and it sounds like so much fun. I just can’t wait to read it.

  • Reply
    Alison's Book Marks
    April 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I can’t wait to read this book! Great review!

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    April 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Looking forward to this one, Elyse. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Reader#9
    April 18, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Always loved Tina Fey! Never understood why it took Hollywood so long to appreciate her talents. I have been reading chapters of this slowly. Great stuff in those pages.

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    April 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I really want to read this and may go the audiobook route as well. But, may I just say, that cover makes me sick to my stomach. It reads more as she had an allergic reaction and had major swelling than anything else. I can’t look at it. It’s funny, sure, and this isn’t a complaint, as in “they shouldn’t have chose that cover” but more, I’m such a picky, picky, weird girl.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      April 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      That cover IS a bit unsettling. I love the blurb on the back from Tina’s dad: “I hope that’s not really the cover. That’s really going to hurt sales.” It’s obviously not hurting at all.

      If you get the audiobook, you don’t have to look at it as much.

      • Reply
        Christine
        April 19, 2011 at 6:34 am

        Honestly, when I first saw the cover, I immediately thought of Magilla Gorilla.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    April 19, 2011 at 1:24 am

    I can’t decide if I think it’s a weird cover or a very smart cover. Either way, it makes you look ~ so perhaps that makes it a good cover. I’m towards the end of my very first audio book ever, yay! Why didn’t I try this before?! {Robert Crais Chasing Darkness ~ yes, I’m psychic and I knew you’d ask.} Knowing Tina Fey is doing the reading {thanks, le0pard13!} makes it an alluring choice.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      April 21, 2011 at 12:06 am

      Since you’re psychic, you probably know that I heartily endorse your choice of first audiobook ever!

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