Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Where I live (in these here parts), we like to claim Tina Fey as our own. "Yeah, she went to school right down the street from here," we'll tell anyone who will listen, even if we haven't ever actually set foot inside her old school, and even if she would recognize neither me nor that other claimant at any of the fast-food joints at which she professes to sup along a certain Pennsylvania turnpike.
Still, I read Bossypants with an odd sense of You go, girl familiarity. Or maybe the pride I was feeling was pride in my own gender—the smartness of Fey, the intelligence of her voice, the fluidity of her prose, the sense you get that she wrote this whole thing on her own, without the intercession of a hired pen. In Bossypants, we get the down and dirty on Fey's growing up, her funny friends, her appealing parents. We see Fey at work as a young comedienne, as a young comedic writer, as the super nova force behind 30 Rock. (As a side note, once a client, rejecting my work, explained that I didn't have the "sound" the company was looking for. "We think of our readers as 30 Rock viewers," I was informed, over e-mail. "You're work sounds a little, well, old, especially with all its attention to grammar." I would have decided to forever hate 30 Rock after that, except that we're talking about my almost-next-door-neighbor, my practically best friend Tina Fey. Besides, web sites, schmeb shites. I teach at Penn.)
Amidst all that is so funny, all that sings so smoothly along, we get Tina Fey as the non-Celeb celebrity. She's just a person—kinda like you, kinda like me. She's wowed by her good fortune, she's annoyed by her critics, she's amused by photo shopping, and she's not going to judge your parenting style, even if you choose to judge hers (but please don't; she seems entirely decent and, at the very least, committed to throwing her daughter a Peter Pan-themed birthday party in the midst of winning Emmys, entertaining Oprah, and miming a certain former governor from Alaska).
Tina Fey even has some beauty tricks to share; consider buying the book for those. Or perhaps you'd like to know what it's like to go on a photo shoot with Fey? I leave you with these only-Fey-could-write-them words:
Some photographers are compulsively effusive. "Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous! Ugh, so gorgeous!" they yell at shutter speed. If you are anything less than insane, you will realize this is not sincere. It's hard to take because it's more positive feedback than you've received in your entire life thrown at you in fifteen seconds. It would be like going jogging while someone rode next to you in a slow-moving car, yelling, "Yes! You are Carl Lewis! You're breaking a world record right now. Amazing! You are fast. You're going very fast, yes!"