Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

23rd October 2013


I am a latecomer in terms of appreciation of the hilarity of Tina Fey. I once thought she really wasn’t all that funny. It took half a dozen episodes of 30 Rock (watched when all my other shows were off season) for me to appreciate it. But then? I couldn’t get over the wisdom of Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon. I was spouting off Liz Lemonisms way too frequently.

So when I quoted her one too many times to my brother in a text, he asked if I had read Bossypants yet. Which, of course, I hadn’t. I promptly paid much more than I ever do for an ebook ($7.99, if I recall) and began reading. By afternoon, I was finished.

Bossypants is, as many collections of personal essays are, a bit all over the place. The writing isn’t phenomenal. There are moments when it isn’t even that funny, so don’t go in expecting early David Sedaris. That said, Fey’s story of her life prior to her run as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live and Liz Lemon on 30 Rock is pretty special. It’s more of an insider’s view backstage those two shows than anything else, so if you aren’t familiar with either, then Bossypants may not be for you.

And she does bring the funny:

Q: Is 30 Rock the most racist show on television?

A: No, in my opinion it’s NFL football. Why do they portray all those guys as murderers and rapists?


(By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.)


We began our breast-feeding journey in the hospital under the tutelage of an encouraging Irish night nurse named Mary. We tried the football hold, the cross-cradle hold, and one I like to call the Bret Michaels, where you kind of lie over the baby and stick your breast in its mouth to wake it up.


Lesson learned? When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.


I have a suspicion – and hear me out, ’cause this is a rough one – I have a suspicion that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.

The only person I can think of that has escaped the “crazy” moniker is Betty White, which, obviously, is because people still want to have sex with her.


At times, such as in the last bit of dark humor, Bossypants seems to bemoan the fact that women in television haven’t come all that far, but by virtue of Fey’s prominence (and I would include Amy Poehler here), it’s evident that the strides, though small, are being made. And I plan to review Mindy Kaling’s book tomorrow, a similar book but one that varies in pretty significant ways, i.e. generational differences. [Tip: Everyone I know who has read this has raved about the audio, and as I could hear Tina Fey’s voice as I read, I can imagine it’d be a pretty good listen.]

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

  • I’m so out of the loop with Tina Fey. Though, I love Mindy Kaling and want to be friends with her. Her book, while not amazing, was good and I still want to be friends with her.

    • Me too! I think we’d be amazing friends. 🙂

      And her book was actually, in my opinion, much better written than Tina Fey’s.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    I like Tina Fey and think she’s really smart & funny, and yet I’ve never been able to stick with 30 Rock. I think I’ve seen the first 2 seasons, but it was a show I was just happy to dip into and watch a handful of episodes of only to forget about it for another couple of months. It always made me laugh, but just never hooked me, I guess.

    I’m looking forward to reading your review of Kaling’s book! I read it last year and really enjoyed it and still dip into it occasionally whenever I can’t focus and just want to laugh. I think a huge factor for why I liked it so much was because I could so perfectly hear Mindy saying everything in that book… it was like her voice was echoing inside my head!

    • Yeah, even though I enjoyed 30 Rock, it wasn’t the type of show that had me clicking “next” when an episode finished. But overall, I did enjoy it.

      Mindy Kaling, on the other hand? I’ve always thought she was so funny. In The Office and on her new show, too. She just cracks me up.

  • I’ve heard nothing but praise for this book…but I still haven’t read it. I’m not an active fan of Fey so I can’t get up enough interest. Your review makes me want to check it out at some point, though.

    • I don’t blame you. That’s exactly how I felt prior to the last few months watching 30 Rock.

  • Weirdly, I came to this book before 30 Rock, which I assumed I wouldn’t like. I, like you, didn’t always used to think Fey was as hilarious as she clearly is. This book is awesome, most of it had me giggling.