by Tina Fey

Oh, Miss Tina, will you marry me? Who’s this Tina, you ask? That’d be Tina Fey, former Saturday Night Live writer, 30 Rock creator, all-round comedienne and now, thanks to her debut book Bossypants, pants-splittingly funny author. Part sardonic memoir, part behind-the-scenes tour, and part half-serious discussion of women in the entertainment industry, Tina Fey has written a book that’s witty as all hell, endlessly quotable and just generally awesome.

Bossypants covers the years of Fey’s adolescence, college years, her time in the legendary comedy theatre group Second City, and finally her years at SNL and 30 Rock. Naturally there’s the bits you expect; for example, there’s a chapter about 30 Rock, the quintessential little-TV-show-that-could (and it’s this chapter that had me say out loud, “Oh, that’s who wrote the line ‘Never go with a hippie to a second location’!”). But the earlier parts that recount her childhood are just as interesting and funny, especially since Fey takes absolutely every opportunity to lampoon herself and her supposed “celebrity” status (how else to explain her inclusion of a class photo of herself proudly sporting one of the most heinous shag haircuts known to man?). You also sense that Fey wrote Bossypants with a mind to answering all the questions she is asked most often, like “How’d you get that scar on your face?”, “How do you juggle being a working mother?” and “What’s it like being boss?” In that way, Bossypants addresses all the things that you’re interested in about her and which probably made you pick up the book in the first place.

On the other hand, Bossypants is also a well-disguised platform for Fey to talk about some of the things she’s interested in, and it’s these more political themes that, along with her authorial voice, help Fey hold this book together. The strongest thread binding together Bossypants is her feminist ethics and, in particular, the ridiculousness surrounding women in film, television and theatre. As she says, in one of her only half-kidding moments, “only in comedy ... does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity”. With her trademark weird and cutting humour, Fey talks about body image in the media (“The person closest to actually achieving [the ideal body] is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes”), and the expectations placed on actresses by other people. (There’s a great story about Jimmy Fallon jokingly complaining that Amy Poehler’s latest gag wasn’t “cute” – that is, sweet and ladylike. Poehler’s response? “Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. ‘I don’t fucking care if you like it.’” Yeah, can that be our next feminist catchphrase? Please?)

In a lot of ways, Bossypants reflects the kind of ethos that pervaded Fey’s first Sarah Palin sketch – namely, “You all watched a sketch about feminism and you didn’t even realize it because of all the jokes ... Suckers!” In other words, Fey talks pretty explicitly about political issues but uses comedy to make it go down more smoothly for the average punter. For people like me, though, who are already fans, Fey not only talks about things you agree with, she expresses those sentiments in ways both funnier and pithier than you ever could. Seriously, the woman is a one-liner machine. (“Gay people don’t actually try to convert people. That’s Jehovah’s Witnesses you’re thinking of.”)

Bossypants is whip-smart, completely readable and possibly the most hilarious feminist text you’ll ever read. Really, once you read it, you’ll understand my marriage proposal.

(Tina – call me. I’ll have your second baby.)

– Feby Idrus
This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2012.
Posted 12:51am Monday 7th May 2012 by Feby Idrus.