Tina Fey is allergic to bulls—. If she comes within five feet of a pile, the uncommonly sensible, reflexively funny comedy goddess in eyeglasses will gracefully sidestep the stuff. And all the while, she’ll make wise and hilarious observations about the stink, counting as friends those who smell it too. It’s Fey’s custom-quality, handcrafted BS detector that makes Bossypants so irresistible.
In this genially jumbled memoir-esque collection of riffs, essays, laundry lists, true stories, fantasy scenarios, SNL script excerpts, and embarrassing photos from the wilderness years before she received the gift of a flattering haircut, the great Miz Fey puts on the literary equivalent of a satisfying night of sketch comedy. As a result, some of the bits are better than others. Many of the chapters link together as a more or less chronological account from the author’s girl-dork years in Upper Darby, Pa., to her days and long nights on SNL, to her creation of 30 Rock and Fey’s sitcom alter ego (and beacon of hope to working women), Liz Lemon. (There’s also stuff on her turn imitating that former governor from Alaska.)
But Fey remains notably selective about the information she shares; while making jokes at her own expense, she maintains an inviolable sense of privacy. It’s the more freewheeling, improvised chapters that capture Fey at her sharpest (and most influentially feminist). I love her list of beauty secrets. I’m grateful for her comparative charts on the experiences of being “very very skinny” and “a little bit fat.” I plan to steal Fey’s imaginary response to a rude Internet commenter: “First let me say how inspiring it is that you have learned to use a computer.” Oh, and a note to those who would ask Fey, a working mother, “How do you juggle it all?”: Don’t ask! If she knew how to juggle it all, she wouldn’t be so funny. Or such an excellent Bossypants. Grade: A–
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