Friday, August 16, 2013

Boss Lady

I've already spoken out about my love of that hallowed institution of late night laughs, Saturday Night Live, as well as comedian memoirs, like those from television juggernaut Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?) and past SNL frequent guest, Steve Martin (Born Standing Up); therefore, the constant buzz surrounding Tina Fey's Bossypants was wholly unnecessary in hooking my attention. I was sold on this book before I had even taken it off the shelf.

The memoir is filled with humorous accounts from all parts of the comedienne's life, from a doomed one-sided college romance, to her background as a theater-camp nerd, to her time she logged at SNL as a writer and co-anchor of Weekend Update, to the feat of juggling politics and impartiality (yes, she's talking about Palin).

From the get-go, Fey's book is, as expected, horrendously funny: each chapter reads like a comedy set, with her trademark sarcasm and wit fully present throughout. It's almost like you could hear it in her own voice... which makes me wonder whether she has an audio book. The jokes are constantly coming, the wisecracks at a consistent pace, like a steady drum beat, punctuated by rim shots. The woman knows what she's doing when it comes to doing, essentially, her job. 

The problem was, though, that each chapter was its own little sketch: a series of vignettes loosely strung throughout, held together by general themes, no correlating chronological order. Even comedy needs rhyme and reason, and if not that, a timeline in the front of the book spelling out which parts of her life happened when. In more than one place, I got lost in the joking nature of it all, and couldn't find as much of the substance I felt it lacking, as if she felt, in writing it, that candor and simplified storytelling got in the way of a near-constant parade of humor. If I hadn't already had a good idea as to the chronology of her career, I might have been dashed to incomprehension against the bulky masses of her witticisms and jokes, lost in the sea of her constantly moving stories, leaving little time to simmer in how her life actually has been thus far.

References drawn to shining gemstones in the crown of her comedy career were thus difficult to frame, with the lack of solid background, and it was obvious. 30 Rock references weren't even bothered to be staged or fully explained, so a non-viewer like me - or the majority of America, as she fully admits that the critical darling was not a regular ratings-drawer - couldn't follow the jokes to a recognizable source, while her now-iconic turn as the VP candidate was scripted out in it's entirety. It seemed like a ploy to the audience's familiarity, by drawing emphasis to the parts of her body of work that they would find most recognizable, and it didn't work well. 

Regardless, Fey is a champion among comedians, a well-intentioned feminist, a carefully-weighed political informer, a great mom, and a regular human being, and all of those are displayed in this memoir. She is a multi-faceted funny lady, and while her sarcasm and humor sometimes glossed over her real-ness in a way I found really disappointing, she remained very cool. (And if you haven't read "A Mother's Prayer for her Daughter" yet, be aware that you need to. Google it.) 

For longtime fans of the comedy darling, and champions of the career woman model, not looking for much by way of substantial life experience or background on Fey's work, but definitely looking for a good laugh, this book is for you. 

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy Tina Fey's work, but we don't get SNL over in Britain, so my only experience of her is the odd episode of 30 Rock and some clips I've seen here and there. I think I'd enjoy this book, but judging from your review, I'd get a little lost at times!