Literature

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Bossypants’ doesn’t live up to Tina Fey

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My, what nice forearms you have.

Tina Fey’s Bossypants is funny but not hilarious. It’s smart but not brilliant. It’s a good read, but it’s just not up to Fey’s standards. If she didn’t write, produce and star in the funniest sitcom on television (by far), I’d be satisfied with Bossypants. But she does, so I’m not.

Bossypants mixes 80 percent memoir with 20 percent comic essay. Fey writes about grade school, her intimidating father, the local YMCA, SNL, 30 Rock and, of course, her tenure as Sarah Palin’s comic double.

The Details

Bossypants
By Tina Fey, $27.
Three stars

The most interesting tidbit in the book comes on Page 8: “During the spring semester of kindergarten, I was slashed in the face by a stranger in the alley behind my house.”

The line is sandwiched between two jokes, so I almost didn’t recognize Fey was being serious. Usually it’s the other way around: The Bossypants jokes are sandwiched between the biographical tidbits (i.e., “When I was writing the movie Mean Girls—which hopefully is playing on TBS right now!—I went to a workshop”).

Not all of Fey’s humor hits, like the bit in which she writes, “In an act of amazing bravery, I will let you see this photo of me with Photoshop and without.” And then, the photo that’s supposedly Fey without Photoshop is really a photo of a 90-year-old woman in Tina Fey glasses. Meh. Seen that joke a dozen times before.

Fey shines when describing the comedy writing process. And I’d love for her to write a how-to book on comic writing. There are a couple of ’em out there right now, but none are any good. Fey could write a genre-killer.

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