03 January 2013

Books: Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)

I adore Tina Fey for many reasons (along with Amy Poehler). That statement might not be a surprise from any gay man, because every gay guy I know seems to have an affinity for any women who has made a success in world where it’s generally been considered a “man’s territory.” Bossypants is not really a memoir –which is good, because I find them to be dull at times (biographies are generally better, if not –at times- too tabloidy). I’ve also never found these types of books high on list of must-reads, because they seem always destined to be read by people who I would never want to have a conversation with because they somehow think Duck Dynasty is really real and not half scripted. 

But I love Tina Fey more than Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Paul Reiser or Larry the Cable Guy -as a matter of fact, a lot of people I look up to happen to be women. And women comedians, be it a stand-up or writer, are personal heroes to me. They've tried so hard to sit on the same chair as men like Allen or Seinfeld, that I cannot help but like them (perhaps that is why I always loved Phyllis Diller and even Joan Rivers -though more so in her early days). So I knew the book was going to be better than most of those “celebrity” memoirs that blend fact and fantasy, if only because Fey had to try harder to prove to world that she could be just as funny –if not more- than her male counterparts. So in Bossypants, she blends her typical askew version of humor, adds some introspection, offers up some critical thinking that made her a strongly opinionated dynamo with a comedic voice that is totally her own.

Some of the best chapters deal with her self-deprecating humor (traits most gay men appreciate). Her take on photo shoots is pretty brilliant, as well as her time with SNL and her managerial style that she learned from Lorne Michaels. She talks about how she staffed the SNL writers room with just the right combination of “hyperintelligent” Harvard jokesters, who kept things logical and taught the proper construction of joke and “gifted, visceral, fun performers” who were improve geniuses.  It’s the same approach she used on 30 Rock (which even she admits is a bit weird and odd for Americans brought up on paint-by-number sitcoms; she never thought the show would get past 13 episodes. Strangely, for me, I knew the show was for me after they aired the episode with Paul Reubens as the inbred Austrian prince, Gerhardt Hapsburg. With Reubens full commitment to the role, and the complete oddness of the episode itself, I knew there was going to be a lot of Americans who would say this show was just too weird. But I laughed my ass off).

She is a sweet woman –though she never goes overboard saccharin while writing about her relationship with her husband and his family and their child. She is charming beyond belief and you sometimes get the feeling that at her core, Tina Fey is a rational, thoughtful, and smart woman who just happens to sometimes talk like a drunken sailor who just got kicked in the nuts.

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