BOOK REVIEW: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Posted on April 16, 2011


Tina Fey
Little Brown

Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true. And now, here is her story.


OK the first and frankly rather obvious question is why am I reviewing Tina Fey’s autobiography when my more usual gig is speculative fiction?

Well, firstly, only ten copies were being made available to blog-based reviewers in Australia. I put my hand up for a copy, not expecting to get one. It was a rather delightful surprise to receive an email a few days ago that a copy had been tossed into the post for me. Next, Fey is a writer and I believe in learning what we can from those who have gone ahead of us on the writing journey. Finally, I think Tina Fey is very funny and talented. And cute. There. I said it, OK?

When I first elevated myself to the luxury of pay television here in Australia, The Comedy Channel was running old episodes of the long-running US comedic icon, Saturday Night Live. The humour did not always do a lot for me but it must be incredibly difficult to keep turning out comedy sketches year after year. My favourite part of the show was easily the Weekend Update piece featuring a quirky, bespectacled lady who was not above throwing the occasional comment to the audience.

To many people, Tina Fey is “that” woman who did the impersonations of Sarah Palin even though this was just one small part of her story, albeit one that brought her a much wider audience and attention.

This was a very entertaining book. While some cultural references are naturally US-centric and I did not necessarily always get them, it is fast-paced and very easy to get right into. It is a confession, the story of a journey, an account of life in the entertainment business, genuine admiration of others, biting sarcasm, self-deprecating humour and some lovely lunacy.

With all the many people Fey has worked with, particularly the special hosts on Saturday Night Live, there must have been a temptation to do a ‘tell-all’ about some of the ‘d-bags’ (Palin’s expression) but she has resisted that. But some people from earlier in her life come in for some biting sarcasm and ridicule but are generally kept anonymous.

I am left with the impression that Fey is a bit puzzled by the attention she has received in more recent years as an attractive woman. Her list of self-perceived body flaws includes her feet.

“My Father’s feet. Flat. Bony. Pale. I don’t know how he even gets around, because his feet are in my shoes.”

I was also a little puzzled by Fey’s references to the alleged low popularity of her current creation, 30 Rock. That is easily one of my favourite programs.

As a biography, Bossypants will appeal to more than just Tina Fey’s fans. It is a delightful reflection by a very entertaining and perceptive person and keen observer of life, not to mention giving an insight into life working in comedy and television.

I have also reviewed this at

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