Unless one of these men is my boss, which none of them is, it's irreWho said women aren't funny? A lot of people, apparently, most of them men. One of these was Christopher Hitchens, the controversial journalist who published an essay in Vanity Fair titled, quite plainly, Why Women Aren't Funny. To this and to the dozen other polemics written about the perceived humor gap between men and women, Tina Fey, in her new book called Bossypants, says, "We don't fucking care if you like it." She adds,
Unless one of these men is my boss, which none of them is, it's irrelevant. My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don't like something, it is empirically not good. I don't like Chinese food, but I don't write articles trying to prove it doesn't exist.
Man, this Tina Fey person sure is funny. And she's a woman. And she's sexy. And she's her own boss. She's the creator of 30 Rock, one of the most acclaimed comedy series on television today.
30 Rock is inspired by Fey's experiences working on another comedy show, Saturday Night Live. In Bossypants, Fey relates how she went from being an awkward but intelligent girl in her hometown in Pennsylvania to writing sketches for the aforementioned comedy institution to portraying an awkward but intelligent woman in 30 Rockefeller Center.
Bossypants sustains a deftly calibrated mixture of Fey's signature self-effacing humor and her knack for intelligent storytelling that buoys an otherwise tiresome and self-important account of a celebrity's rise to fame and success. Whether she's recalling the circumstances of her first menstrual discharge ("In the spring of 1981 I achieved menarche while singing Neil Diamond’s 'Song Sung Blue' at a districtwide chorus concert."), narrating the nearly disastrous outcome of her honeymoon aboard a cruise ship (In a nod to the late David Foster Wallace, her fellow New York Times bestselling author, the section detailing the "very Poseidon Adventure" trip with her husband is called My Honeymoon, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again Either.), or sharing tips on how to pose for magazine covers ("When you look into the lens, imagine you are looking at a dear friend, but not a friend who would laugh at you for jutting out your chin while arching your back against a fake wall."), Fey is apt to infuse her writing with adorable wit and a strong sense of understanding.
There are some wonderful Filipinos [in the cruise ship] who fold your towels in the shape of a different animal every night. It might be an elephant wearing your sunglasses, or a duck wearing your sunglasses. It's just fun. Don't overthink it.
Fey hails from a municipality in Delaware County called Upper Darby, where she grew up with her German father, Greek mother, and fellow part-German, part-Greek older brother. There she had her first brush with reality when in kindergarten a boy classmate rudely tore one of her drawings apart. "I didn’t have the language to express my feelings then," the now 40-year old Tina writes, "but my thoughts were something like 'Oh, it’s like that, motherfucker? Got it.'" Fey has since been funneling this incipient plucky attitude into every day of her life.
After studying in University of Virginia (and, among other crazy things, climbing Old Rag Mountain to impress a boy), Fey became part of The Second City, the improvisation and sketch comedy troupe in Chicago whose accomplished alumni include her close friends and SNL co-stars Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch. The divide between men, who are funny, and women, who are supposedly less funny (if at all, as Hitchens and company would reiterate), was then made only tina too clear to Fey. The show-runners, she recalls, were hesitant to produce a show with an unprecedented gender-equal cast for fear that "the women wouldn't have any ideas," but in the end they moved forward with the plan. Fey was one of the three funny women in that cast.
My dream for the future is that sketch comedy shows become a gender-blind meritocracy of whoever is really the funniest. You might see four women and two men. You might see five men and a YouTube video of a kitten sneezing. Once we know we're really open to all the options, we can proceed with Whatever's the Funniest… which will probably involve farts.
As with many other luminaries from The Second City, Fey went on to work at SNL, progressively as a writer, a head writer (the first female to hold the position), and a cast member. In 2006 she left the show to develop and run her own, the highly praised but, Fey admits, low-rating 30 Rock. Aside from being its creator she is also one of the show's main actors, playing a considerably fictionalized version of herself. On top of that she is an executive producer of the show, carrying the unofficial title of "boss." Giving credit where credit is due, Fey is not one to pass up any available space between words in her book to point out that much of 30 Rock's relative success is ascribable to her co-star Alec Baldwin and her cadre of comic writers, one of whom came up with this classic line by the character Tracy Jordan, who is of course played by the actor Tracy Morgan: "Stop eating people’s old french fries, little pigeon. Have some self-respect. Don’t you know you can fly?"
Bossypants suggests that at a young age Fey already knew she could fly. It was just a matter of knowing what she wanted, persevering to get it, and maintaining her purchase on it, even as she's being belittled by chauvinistic men and beaten in the ratings game by Two and a Half Men. Fey's most demanding challenge, though, came in the person of Alice, her daughter, to whom the book's unexpectedly emotional antepenultimate section is dedicated. Its title: The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter.
Fey ends her consistently hilarious, laugh-out-loud (really, it is) memoiristic book pondering the possibility of a second child.
Science shows that fertility and movie offers drop off steeply for women after forty.
I have one top-notch baby with whom I am in love. It's a head-over-heels "first love" kind of thing, because I pay for everything and all we do is hold hands.
When she says, "I wish I had a baby sister," I am stricken with guilt and panic. When she says, "Mommy, I need Aqua Sand," or "I only want to eat gum!" or "Wipe my butt!" I am less affected.
Fey is now five months pregnant.
Originally posted on Fully Booked.Me....more
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