Friday, July 15, 2011

Mini Review: Tina Fey's Bossypants

"You know what I like about it? It doesn't remind me of anything."
~Rory Gilmore, some random episode of Gilmore Girls season 6 

Ah, one of the greatest comments one can get (especially if you're Jess and you've been in love with Rory for four seasons). Sadly, this is not one I will be giving Tina Fey. What made me think of it was the fact that her recent humour book/memoir, Bossypants, reminded me of so many things, and not in a good way.

Love it!

She portrays herself much in the way that Jen Lancaster portrays her character in her memoirs, particularly Bitter is the New Black, where she mocks and satirizes her former self. Only, Jen Lancaster is much more successful with this, producing many laughs, whereas Tina Fey only comes off as annoying. 

Hate it!

Her sense of humour is similar to Amy Poehler's. While I do love Amy Poehler on Parks and Rec, I really don't get her sense of humour outside of that show--Baby Mama, her years on SNL, etc. She has a great energy on Parks, but on shows like SNL that hyperactivity becomes grating. She always goes for the easy, obvious, quick joke, rather than building to a big pay off. I don't think I'd enjoy a book by Amy Poehler, no matter how much I love Leslie Knope. Well, in Bossypants, Tina Fey becomes a lot less Liz Lemon and a lot more Amy Poehler, and it's really not that funny. It's is frustrating and weak and just not that clever. 

Love it!

She attempts to pull off a David Sedaris style of storytelling, where she tells a rather mundane story in a rather funny way. But just as she's no Jen Lancaster, she's no David Sedaris. Many of her stories are more exciting than Sedaris's, yet they are not as entertaining. For a woman who crafts such a clever show each week, she certainly doesn't write very interesting short stories. I'd prefer Sedaris to Fey any day. 

Actor Rob Lowe signs copies of his book "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on May 2, 2011 in New York City.
Love how much he looks like a wax figure!

She hasn't lived a life like Rob Lowe. Part of the reason to read a celebrity book like this is to see all the celebrity references. In Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends, he name drops like crazy and it's so much fun! Tom Cruise! Charlie Sheen! Martin Sheen! Aaron Sorkin! Francis Ford Coppola! In Bossypants, there aren't nearly as many exciting names like that. You get to hear a lot about Amy Poehler and Lorne Michaels (the producer of SNL), and a little bit about Alec Baldwin. That's basically it. It's not nearly exciting and not nearly as fun. 

None of that was good stuff. If you add it all up, the book is not very good. I literally only laughed twice during the entire memoir. And one of those times I was just laughing at a 30 Rock joke she quoted, which doesn't really count. 

That was an issue I struggled with--is this supposed to be humour, or is it just supposed to be a memoir? When the book was being promoted a few months back, it seemed to be sold as humour, and I guess that's the assumption, since it's coming from Tina Fey. But since I was laughing so little, I felt like I should just judge it as a memoir--like I judged Rob Lowe's book. 

In the end, it doesn't live up to my expectations. either as a piece of humour or an autobiography. 


  1. So, not a good experience with this book huh? I have to admit, I was not enamored of the book BUT I did like the audiobook as I stated in a blog entry- for me it was more fun listening to it. Hopefully it was not my suggestion that left you disappointed!

    I was surprised by this book, too. I wasn't sure if it is memoir, comedy, how to make it as a women in business, etc. It's a bit of everything which makes the book a bit messy. Also Fey, unlike say, Rob Lowe did not enter show biz until much later, she doesn't have as many crazy celeb stories to make for juicy reading. But who knows maybe you'll revisit it years from now and it'll click better. Or not ;)

  2. Yeah, I read what you said about the audio book a few weeks back and it really tempted me. But I've listened to a book, and wasn't quite sure where to start. But I can imagine it was fun.

    I agree with your assessment--"messy" certainly fits. It felt like she was trying to do too much, spreading the book too thin. I thought the whole feminism thing could have been really well done in one story that thoroughly examined it, rather than the random comments sprinkled throughout.

    And, I'd just like to point out, she made one of my favourite movies of all time (Mean Girls), and it was only referenced once. So, she didn't include all the juicy reading she could have!

    Do you watch 30 Rock? If you don't, what drew you to this memoir/comedy/whatever?

  3. **I've never listened to a book. Oops. Sorry.

  4. I've read so many positive things about this one, especially commenting on the humour! now i'm worried! :/ I've never read a memoir (in my life! wow) but I have this one on hold at the library so I'm still gonna try it out. I have a feeling I should really check out Rob Lowe's new book along with Jen Lancaster (though I have no idea who she is... googling...)
    And how can she only reference Mean Girls once?! That movie is pretty much legendary -_- Thanks for the review, shucks you didn't like it :(


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