REVIEW ALSO ON: http://bibliomantics.com/2011/04/15/youve-co me-a-long-way-baby-cassie-la-enthuses-about-bossypants-by-tina-fey/
As far as expectations go, I assumed Tina Fey's autobiography would be very similar to Sarah Silverman’s, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. This was unfair of me. It was unfair to assume that just because both of these writers are female comedians that their autobiographies would be in some way congruent. Whereas Silverman’s novel taught me that she is a loose, social outcast with poor fashion decisions and no qualms about spitting out various racial epithets and/or references to vaginas, Fey’s novel was ultimately more fulfilling. While they both talk about their rise into the public eye (by starting low in the comedy world with other now also famous comedians), Fey presents her story in a much more intellectual way.
The most satisfactory aspect of the novel is the way that Tina Fey’s voice and humour shines through the stories (most of which are funny, sardonic, and tinged with a sense that no matter how bad things get there is always humour, and a sarcastic world view to solve the problem). Rather than hearing the story with my own voice as I read, I constantly found myself hearing Fey’s voice. Literally. She talked to me as if we were old friends, and she just happened to be entertaining me with various stories from her life. You can’t help but hear her inside your head.
In another chapter she is writing about the disastrous cruise her and her husband went on for their honeymoon. She explains that for legal reasons her husband does not want his name mentioned in the book so she instead refers to him as Barry. Throughout the narrative however she keeps “accidentally” writing that his name is Jeff, a mistake she consistently berates herself for mid-text. Barry then becomes Lee for a good portion of the story until she changes it to Rod at the request of Jeff who think it sounds much more manly. The funniest moments are when she breaks the fourth wall, or whatever you would call that in literary form. Sorry Zack Morris, Tina Fey has you beat.
Another thing that greatly appealed to me was how much the book was aimed at women. Granted, not being a married mother I cannot fully relate to the entire novel, but for the most part I could easily connect to what she touched upon. As a woman I have experienced her frustration with females being viewed as somehow less capable than men in the workplace. This included talk about the lack of a female majority in the improvisational acting group Second City, and also the lack of parts for women that initially occurred on “Saturday Night Live”. In one anecdote she mentions that Chris Kattan in drag was chosen over a female cast member for a sketch with Sylvester Stallone.
She rails against the strangeness of being a woman, from having her period to delaying being allowed to shave her legs. In one of the first lines that struck me enough to highlight it on my Kindle, Fey writes that, “I had noticed something was weird earlier in the day, but I knew from commercials that one’s menstrual period was a blue liquid that your poured like laundry detergent onto maxi pads to test their absorbency”. This was, to me anyway, a “what’s the deal with airline food” joke for the 21st century.
What resonates most however is the inadequacy women feel with themselves and the cattiness they exhibit to one another. This is also explored in Fey’s movie Mean Girls (AKA the pinnacle of Lindsay Lohan’s career). She discusses how no matter what a woman looks she will be judged harshly, both by herself and others. Ultimately we will compare ourselves to photoshopped models we see on the covers of magazines (Fey herself is proud to admit she has all her own teeth and original facial features) despite the impossibility of achieving these attributes. Tastes also change. Where once curvier beauties were in (see Marilyn Monroe), followed by stick thin models (see Twiggy), followed by big booties (see J-Lo), and now thighs (see Beyonce) women will forever be striving to do whatever it takes to conform to the national standard of beauty. We as a gender will never view ourselves as enough.
Fey herself admits to being catty toward other women, which makes me feel better about occasionally displaying these qualities. She takes another woman’s job out from under her, she wishes that an ex’s new love interest has a “cavernous vagina”, and she convinces her closeted homosexual friends to choose another lead for a play merely because she has a vendetta against the blonde beauty who stole her boyfriend. She writes, “Obviously, as an adult I realize this girl-on-girl sabotage is the third worst kind of female behavior, right behind saying “like” all the time and leaving your baby in a dumpster”. It’s behavior like this that makes it easy to not enjoy the company of a select few women (or more likely girls on “Teen Mom”). And it is precisely thinking like what I just wrote that gets us labeled as “catty”. Meow!