Strokes of Brilliance in Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”


I enjoyed every word of Tina Fey’s new tell-all called “Bossypants.”  I actually call it a tell-all in gest.  She doesn’t really rat on anyone in show business.  She’s kind of gracious and scathing at the same time.  As someone yet to make my own mark in the world, I was really impressed with her story.  How she joined the cast of SNL at a very young age, after having been out in the world on her own for a very short time.  How she has always followed her heart, having had a love for theater and acting in high school and never left it behind.

The book isn’t necessarily a deep read, it’s light.  But not only is her story kind of relatable, but it’s also very cool to read about her career and personal life.  She uses very descriptive details in certain scenes and I envy her memory.

Rather than review the book detail by detail, I’m going to include a few of her brilliant passages.

On giving young women career advice (where were you when I was younger, Tina?):

“This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice.  People are going to try to trick you.  To make you feel that you are in competition with one another.  ‘You’re up for a promotion.  If they go with a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.”  Don’t be fooled.  You’re not in competition with other women.  You’re in competition with everyone.  Also, I encourage them to always wear a bra.  Even if you don’t think you need it, just…you know what?   You’re never going to regret it.”

I’ve never been on a cruise.  After reading this book, I have less desire after reading the chapter about how on her honeymoon, Tina and her husband nearly went down with their ship.

“The most interesting thing I learned from this trip came when I told the story to my friend James, who had been a performer on a cruise ship years before.  When I told him the woman said, “Bravo, bravo, bravo, ” James froze.  Did she really say it three times?” he needed to know.  Then James laid it out for me.  Bravo is serious.  The more times they say it, the more serious it is.  The most times they ever say it is four times, and if they say it four times, it means you’re going down to your watery grave.  So, ‘Bravo, bravo, bravo’ was not terrific.  Interesting fact number two:  In the event of an emergency, it is the entertainers who are in charge of the lifeboats. Because the rest of the crew has actual nautical duties, the kids from Fiesta Caliente are trained to man the lifeboats. If you ever have to get on a lifeboat, the person in charge of your safety will likely be a nineteen-year-old dancer from Tampa who just had a fight with his boyfriend about the new Rihanna video. James also told me that each lifeboat has a gun on it and that once a lifeboat is in the water, the performer-lifeboat captain is trained to shoot anyone who is disruptive. This is apparently legal in accordance with maritime law.”

Among Tina’s “Twelve Tenets of Looking Amazing Forever,” are 12 tenets I can relate to like #11: Aging Naturally Without Looking Like Time-Lapse Photography of a Rotting Sparrow:

“At a certain point, your body wants to be disgusting.  While your teens and twenties were about identifying and emphasizing your “best features,” your late thirties and forties are about fighting back decay.  You pluck your patchy beard daily.  Your big toe may start to turn jauntily forward.  Overnight you may grow one long straight white pubic hair.  Not that this has happened to me, of course, because every six months I get a very expensive Japanese treatment that turns my public hair clear like rice noodles.”

On why we should accept the use of Photoshop in touching up photos:

“Give it up.  Retouching is here to stay.  Technology doesn’t move backward.  No society has ever de-industrialized.  Which is why we’ll never turn back Photoshop — and why the economic collapse of China is going to be the death of us all.  Never mind that.  Let’s keep being up in arms about this Photoshop business!”

On the debate between breast-feeding moms and non breast-feeding moms:

“Millions of moms around the world nurse their children beautifully for years without giving anybody else a hard time about it.  Teat Nazis are a solely Western upper-middle-class phenomenon occurring when highly ambitious women experience deprivation from outside modes of achievement.  Their highest infestation pockets are in Brooklyn and Hollywood.”

These are just a few of Tina’s strokes of brilliance in her book.  Having worked in television, I really appreciated the chapters about working on SNL and 30 Rock, and her relationships with Lorne Michaels, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Pohler, Alec Baldwin, and of course, her husband and daughter.

The parts of her book about her daughter are touching.  She admits that it’s not easy to be a working mom, and that she’s cried in her office several times about it.  In one of the last chapters entitled The Mother’s Prayer for its Daughter she says:

“And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50am, all-at-once exhausted, bored and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up my back.  ‘My mother did this for me.’  And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me.  And she will forget.  But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes. Amen.”

Disclosure: I paid for my own copy of Bossypants and have not been in touch with anyone to promote the book.  All opinions are my own.








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  1. loved bossypants too – read it on the train back from bbc boston!

  2. I have never been on a cruise and after this, don’t plan on going on one! Hilarious! Thanks for posting.

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