A few weeks ago, I crossed another book off my “to-read” list when, upon the suggestion of my friend Julie, I went to the library and got out Bossypants, the (relatively) new memoir of funny lady Tina Fey. I made the excuse that I needed to read it for a project (which I actually did, incorporating one of the chapters of the book into my paper – thanks, Tina!) and I did not regret it.
I didn’t know that much about Tina Fey before, but now that I’ve read this book, I feel like we’re best friends. Her artful and hilarious way of illustrating stories of her childhood woes was touching (but not in a sexual way), and it made me feel like my blog posts in the “random memories” category might mean something to somebody someday. After several chapters about her early days, she starts going off on wild and wonderful tangents about all the different factors that make her the person whom we see today. Her topics include weight, makeup, photo shoot tips, and how to interact with your boss/employees. I knew that prior to her bit as Sarah Palin, she’d been off the show for a little while, but I didn’t know that even though she was in the cast for awhile, she did way more behind the scenes as a writer than as an actress. Thinking about it…she’s totally right, with her years having much more visible women in them (Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph to name a few) with more memorable characters. Aside from Palin, Tina Fey’s main point of reference was as a foil to Jimmy Fallon on Weekend Update, which she did flawlessly, but as herself. That’s another thing that kind of surprised me: she didn’t see herself as anything other than Tina. True, to a certain extent, given that she usually appeared as herself on the show, but she also revealed that she didn’t think she looked like Sarah Palin other than sharing brown hair and a similar taste in glasses, from which I beg to differ. People around the country were drawing comparisons between the two even before Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate. And really, it’s more than hair and face – they have the same height and build, prominent cheekbones and big smiles. Tina Fey wasn’t Sarah Palin in a wig; for most Americans, Tina Fey was Sarah Palin. And for some confused foreign media outlets as well. More than the actual politician herself, Fey provided more than enough humor to what was a very tense election, and may have ultimately been a factor in deciding the future trajectory of the leadership of the United States of America.
The best part of the book was the complete script of Tina Fey’s first appearance as Sarah Palin, alongside Amy Poehler’s Hillary Clinton. This hilarious cold open, known as “A Non-Partisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Hillary Clinton,” featured the two talking about sex and the media, with Clinton making constant jabs at Palin, which she completely deflected with a combination of confusion and charm. Though Fey would continue to impersonate Palin over the coming weeks, these few minutes were, I believe, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin at her finest. She had a great scene partner in Amy Poehler to bounce off of, and set a standard for comediennes everywhere to step up their game, and to jump right into political humor because “it’s time for a woman to make it to the White House.”
Though many parts of the book had me smiling and/or laughing out loud, my particular favorite was in a section where she gives advice on how to navigate motherhood entitled “Me Time”, on page 243:
“‘Sleep when your baby sleeps.’ Everyone knows this classic tip, but I say why stop there? Scream when your baby screams. Take Benadryl when your baby takes Benadryl. And walk around pantless when your baby walks around pantless.”
Upon reading that again, now I can see why my friend Julie enjoyed the book so much. Maybe a little too much.
The only downsides to this book were that now I feel incredibly guilty for having not watched 30 Rock during its original run, and that now I have to wait until next year’s Golden Globe Awards for more Tina Fey in my life.