Book Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Author: Sherry Helms

A spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora-Ephron-isms for a new generation is all what Tina Fey’s Bossypants is all about. But what this book isn’t and what initially confuses things is, is a memoir. A question that needs to be answered about this book is that Is Bossypants a memoir? According to Newsweek “this is a memoir, not a humor sketch.” USA Today calls it a straight up “memoir”. But if we go by the L.A. Times, it says that “Fey simply tells stories of her life” and” manages to completely avoid a memoir’s biggest pitfall –oblivious narcissism…”  Entertainment Weekly says it’s a “genially jumbled memoir-esque collection”and The New York Times implicitly denies Bossypants being a memoir.

Fey begins with a hagiographical portrait of her father and moves on to her years as a chubby nerd. Her stories from The Second City Comedy Theater in Chicago, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock make it abundantly clear that she is adept at negotiating any and all obstacles at her workplace. At first Bossypants appears to be just more of the same-Tina Fey on the cover with her airbrushed face framed by two large and hairy male arms and the back is filled with fake and self deprecating quotes regarding her appearance and talent. But from inside her book is filled with collection of autobiographical essays that are extremely funny. Particularly hilarious are her chapters on her honeymoon and having a child.

But Tina Fey shares only selective information with her readers. 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.

Tina Fey’s Strength as a writer and a performer is that she has never been afraid to make comedy out of female vulnerability or to twist it around, to invert it and to give it a provocative edge.

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