Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Only in comedy, by the way, does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity

I loved this book. I can't think of another way to start this post than to say I loved this book. I'm a Tina Fey fan so I certainly didn't think I was going to hate Bossypants but I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, especially celebrity ones. When I first heard about the book I thought "That's nice. Maybe I'll borrow this from someone one day." But then I'd hear more and more about it, I'd read excerpts here and there, I saw her on Conan and the more I heard the more I thought I needed to read this sooner. And I got my opportunity while sitting at JFK airport waiting for what turned out to be a broken plane to show up. Oh the joys of flying.

Bossypants details Fey's foray into comedy, from her time at Summer Showtime as a teen, her time in the improv group The Second City, and of course her writing on SNL and her work on 30 Rock. That's expected, you had to know this is what you'd be getting with this book. What surprised me, and also Ilevinso at Sarcastic Female Literary Circle, is how strongly feminist this book is*. It's hard being a female in the male dominated comedy circle and Fey doesn't skirt around the issue. She addresses it head on with her signature wit:
In 1995, each cast at The Second City was made up of four men and two women. When it was suggested that they switch one of the companies to three men and three women, the producers and directors had the same panicked reaction. "You can't do that. There won't be enough parts to go around. There won't be enough for the girls." This made no sense to me, probably because I speak English and have never had a head injury. (Location 922)
Her rants at the sexism within the industry don't make up the majority of the text, but since those were my favorite parts and this is my blog, I'm going to share another one with you, especially because it makes me like Amy Poehler that much more:
Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense [comedy bit] with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can't remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and "unladylike." Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, "Stop that! It's not cute! I don't like it." 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."...With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn't there to be cute. She wasn't there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys' scenes. (location 1514)
I could go on and on just sharing quotes from this because it is consistently hilarious, whether she's talking about her (lack of) fashion sense, her badass dad, her disastrous honeymoon cruise, her 30 Rock writing team, Loren Michaels, or her own adventures in breast feeding. Everything is a gem. I can't say I learned more about myself. I think I learned more about comedy writing, such as male comedy writers tend to pee in cups and leave them around the office. Valuable lesson. I couldn't put this book down and read it through at least half of my brother's college graduation ceremony. And yes, I'm sure I was getting dirty looks from the people around me for not paying attention, but there are something like a million kids graduating at once, and it took an hour alone for them to just walk in. Seriously. 9:20 procession starts. 10:30 graduation ceremony begins. Just look at the picture. And that's not even all the grads. I couldn't fit them all in frame.

This is a fantastic read and one I'm absolutely putting my on re-read pile for when I need to read something light and funny. A general reading pick-me-up.

Side note, there are a couple footnotes in the book, which I missed because I was reading on a Kindle. I was going to complain about that and how hard it is to figure out how to get to the note when reading the ebook, except I just learned you can click on the asterisk and it will take you right to that note. Then hit Back to go right back to the page you were on. Well played, Kindle.

Title quote 1267

*I was thinking of trying to mitigate this statement here so as to not scare of those that see the word feminist and flee. But you know what? if that's your reaction to the word "feminist", bite me.

Fey, Tina. Bossypants. Reagan Authur Books, 2011. Kindle edition.