Bossypants by Tina Fey

May 20, 2011

Summary (from the publisher): Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” 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.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.


  • Unlike most autobiographies, this one wasn’t loaded down with minutiae, beginning with her parents’ childhood, going on through her birth and early years, etc. Tina Just told a few relevant anecdotes from her younger days and moved on to the good stuff.
  • I enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at the whole Sarah Palin impersonation thing. While I personally feel that “joke” has run its course (see Fey’s last outing on SNL for proof), it was interesting to learn how the idea took shape. I also liked that Fey admitted the only resemblance between her and Palin was “brown hair and glasses,” and that Palin was actually much prettier than Tina expected. Everything about that part of the book, from wanting to introduce Palin backstage in case the New York audience booed her to acknowledging that Palin was a true “media star” even in NY, was good. Sure, Fey couldn’t help taking a parting shot at the very end of the section, but whatever.
  • I thought it was courageous of Fey to write about how she got her scar. How scary that some random stranger just popped out while she was walking home from school one day and sliced her face! OMG. Also, I forgot who said it, but one of the SNL castmates speculated that the guy might have just been “marking” Tina to come back and get her later. I nearly spit up my drink when I read that!
  • I’m surprised that she mentioned how she used to be fat. I’d heard rumors about that before, but haven’t been able to find a picture that shows Fey as being truly fat. Seriously with her frame, I doubt that she could ever be a candidate for OxyElite Pro or any other supplements, but still. Most people go out of their way to avoid bringing up their flaws, but she didn’t, so good for her.


  • The book, which consists of “short essays,” was really choppy, disjointed, and a bit hard to read. I had an e-reader edition, and seriously thought I had missing pages or something because so many of the transitions between essays were extremely abrupt.
  • Although Tina’s humor comes through loud and clear on 30 Rock, it doesn’t play as well on paper. There were a few funny parts, just not nearly as many as I was hoping for. I wasn’t exactly expecting a “laff riot,” but thought there would be several more chuckles along the way.
  • There weren’t as many details about behind-the-scenes stuff at 30 Rock. Tina told about pitching the show and getting it picked up by NBC, but barely mentioned anyone other than Alec Baldwin and a short paragraph on Tracey Morgan. I thought there would be more info about how the cast members were chosen, how they get along together, etc.


Bossypants by Tina Fey isn’t your typical memoir. It’s not very deep, philosophical, or revealing, which turned out to be both a strength and a weakness. I think if you like Tina Fey already, then this book will reinforce your feelings. If you’re not familiar with her or don’t like her very much, this won’t change your mind. I give the book 3 stars out of 5.

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