Bossypants Summary

Tina Fey


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Bossypants Summary

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Bossypants is heartwarming memoir about growth and acceptance by comedian Tina Fey. The memoir recounts Fey’s childhood with clever insight and her trademark humor. Fey shows readers how she first started out in the industry and what lessons she has learned along the way. She also combines the overall narrative of her growth in comedy with seemingly random asides. These asides, or chapters, actually blend in well with the overarching narrative, and add much weight to important topics that Fey deems relevant to the overall concept of empowerment and positivity.

Fey was born in 1970, in Philadelphia, and lovingly recalls her childhood and her parents, Jeanne and Don. The narrative explains how Fey was introduced to acting at a young age when she began working at a local summer theater camp. Though this event was Fey’s introduction into acting and her future career, this period also highlighted a darker moment in her life, and one that she vehemently speaks out about now. While at the camp, Fey and other girls sabotaged another girl’s acting. The cruel treatment was revenge for the girl “stealing” Fey’s boyfriend of the time. After revealing her involvement in this bullying, Fey then explains just how damaging this type of behavior is for women. She calls this violence on women by women entirely unacceptable. Fey also addresses her anxiety at a young age about finding dates and feeling like she did not belong to a group. This feeling even followed her into her college years, where the popular girls of the time were all blond.

When Fey finished college and successfully earned her degree in drama, she moved to Chicago. She was able to find work at a YMCA before signing on with the well-known improv group, Second City. Fey says that she found her calling while working with Second City. She found that improv allowed people to hone their comedic skills. Comedians must use intelligence and creativity, and without a script or props to assist them. Working with Second City was also a watershed moment for Fey in that she met her future husband, Jeff, while working with the troupe.

In 1997, Fey was hired to write for Saturday Night Live. Accepting the position, she began her stint working alongside her friend Amy Poehler, another well-known comedian. Fey admits that Poehler taught her how to view work and life while at Saturday Night Live, giving her wonderful advice to live by. Fey also used advice from a colleague to eventually pitch the idea for the show 30 Rock to NBC, which was approved.

Fey also takes on misconceptions of sexism concerning the Saturday Night Live crew. She mentions, for example, how male crew members who were reluctant to act out a skit about maxi pads was not because of apparent sexism but because the men genuinely had no clue about maxi pads. This brief glimpse into sexism by way of example highlights how Fey uses personal experience to tackle social issues. Her insight also shows how readers or viewers might perceive things one way when there is an entirely different story underneath the surface of things.

Fey also writes about her happiness as a successful comedian and mother. When she had her daughter, Alice, she wanted more than anything to ensure a balanced life between her career and motherhood. She also ends the narrative with questions about having another child. Fey succeeded in balancing her life for the most part, though she admits that when she took on the role of Sarah Palin in 2008, her life took an interesting turn. People both loved and hated her portrayal of Sarah Palin. Fey even received hate mail from some people over the role. Fey uses the memoir to explain that she feels many people misunderstood what she was trying to accomplish with the role of Palin. The portrayal was meant to send a message about sexism in general; it was not meant to be a partisan nod to one party line or another.

Always the comedian, Fey uses her memoir to show varying aspects of herself. She is comedian, career woman and mother, to mention just a few of her many roles. Fey is intent on showing readers the growth process, and how even though a person matures and grows, one still wants to be a child at times. Themes of sexism, bullying and body image are sprinkled throughout the tale, thus highlighting causes that Fey is adamant about addressing and changing. Overall, the memoir allows readers a closer look into the mental and physical journey of a true comedic talent.