Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Even though I'm an avid reader, I've never  used  this blog to review any of the books I've read.  Why?  I have no idea!  But I've just finished "Bossypants," an autobiography by the awesome Tina Fey, and I've decided to break my streak!

"But Joan," you may be saying, "Tina Fey is a Pinko Commie Liberal Fascist!  How can you like her, or for that matter, support her anti-American agenda by buying her book?"  To you I have only this response:  If you feel this way, you need to read Tina's writing more than anyone, because then you will see how misinformed you've been!

The truth is, Tina is an uber-witty comedian/writer/producer who somehow managed to achieve success in a male-dominated medium, even though she was never the Prettiest Girl in the Room.  She actually succeeded because she is smart and talented, not because she batted her eyelashes and played "dumb blonde."  She also displays a wonderful self-deprecating humor which proves that she doesn't take herself too seriously, and insists that we don't either.

In her brilliant, witty book, Tina discusses her early years as an improvisational comic (performing with the popular Second City Comedy troupe in Chicago), and how they helped shape the ways she conducts herself as a performer, as a writer, as a boss, and as a wife and mother.

For example, one of the rules of improv is to "Always agree and say 'Yes.'"  "For instance,"  she writes, "if we're improvising and I say, 'Freeze, I have a gun,' and you say, 'That's not a gun.  It's your finger.  You're pointing your finger at me,' our improvised scene has ground to a halt.  But if I say 'Freeze, I have a gun!' and you say, 'The gun I gave you for Christmas?  You bastard!' then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun."

Then Tina explains why this "agreement theory" is applicable to life: "Now obviously in real life you're not always going to agree with everything everyone says.  But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to 'respect what your partner has created' and to at least start from an open-minded place.  Start with a YES and see where that takes you.  As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no.  'No, we can't do that.' 'No, that's not in the budget....' What kind of way is that to live?"

Then there's my favorite Rule of Improvisation that Tina discloses:  There are no mistakes, only opportunities.  She writes:  "In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.  And many of the world's greatest discoveries have been by accident.  I mean, look at the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox."  Seriously, how can you not love this woman?

And if you're still clinging to the "pinko-commie-liberal-fascist" belief because of her dead-on portrayal of Sarah Palin back in 2008, then I have this message for you:  If you think her portrayal of the former Alaskan Governor was "mean," as many of her opposers have commented, then you must also be outraged at Chevy Chase's depiction of a bumbling, stumbling, accident-prone Gerald Ford.

You must be unforgiving of Dan Ackroyd's impersonation of a toothy Jimmy Carter, hoarding tubes of Preparation H (during the unfortunate public disclosure of the president's hemorrhoid problem).  You must condemn Phil Hartman for his portrayal of Bill Clinton, laying across his bed, gossiping with Monica Lewinsky about the latest Dawson's Creek episode, or gorging on Big Macs at the local McDonald's.  And do we really need to discuss Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell's version of the silly, "Not gonna do it" "Strategery" Bush boys?  (Or Dana Carvey's hilarious Ross Perot impression?)  I don't think so!

The truth is, everyone understood when these male comedians performed a parody involving political celebrities, that it was just that, a parody.  When Tina Fey did the same involving a female candidate, she was tagged as being "mean" and "cruel" and having a political agenda.  Unfair?  Sexist?  You betcha.

So unclench your fists, place this book in your hands instead, and enjoy the comedic stylings of a refreshingly honest, REAL female American.  You'll be AMAZED at how much you've learned (AND how much you've laughed) once you've finished!

And even if you don't agree with me, I still want you to know that I respect your opinion, and I won't judge you or think less of you for disagreeing with me.  Tina taught me that!

Thanks for Reading!!


Sylvia K said...

Sounds like one worth the read! Thanks, I'll check it out! I never had negative feelings about her to begin with so it should be interesting! Hope your week is going well!


Shady Del Knight said...

You're preaching to the choir in my case, Joanie, because I happen to love pinko-commie-liberal-fascists. :) "A mind is a terrible thing" and Tina Fey is absolutely brilliant. I loved her on SNL and 30 Rock is must see TV. I agree that we live in a world where "no" is the usual starting position, particularly in government and politics. The world works and things get done when people figure out ways to turn a no into a yes. Look at the popularity of the TV commercial with the now famous tagline: "approved...approved...APPROVED!" The ad campaign has become a huge success because people are used to hitting a brick wall and hearing "no." People who are threatened by political satire need to grow a sense of humor because that form of comedy is an American tradition. David Frost's satirical early 60s TV show TW3 (That Was the Week That Was) originated in England and became a phenomenon on American television by poking fun at the establishment on both sides of the aisle. Political satire is not's ALL American.

Teresa Evangeline said...

It sounds like a fun read. I love her outlook and her impression of Palin was comedic genius.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Hey I'm in your fan club!! PCLF - that's me.
I adore Tina Fey. I have tried to catch her on all of the shows of late where she is plugging her book. I thinks she is smart, adorable, funny and so quick. And not to be made light of...she appears to be nice. That is sadly rare these days. I like nice. But most important to note is that you can't be really funny if you aren't smart!!

I have to admit the cover is a bit creepy but she explained how that came about and again, it was funny and wasn't planned and they went for it. But it's still a bit creepy to look like.

Thx for the tip - now i will definitely read this book.

Unknown said...

This book is going on my must read list! Thanks for the review!

ReformingGeek said...

I loved your review.

I think Tina is hilarious.

Go Tina!

Gal Friday said...

Because of your blogger name AND the most excellent Erma Bombeck quote you shared in a comment over at Straight-Up No Chaser, I HAD to come on over to see if you had anything else worth reading...and I got to read this "selling" review of Tina Fey's(who I already am a fan of)book. Seriously, I am going out to get this book tomorrow, based on your review and the excerpts.
I'll be back to read more here, as well.

Another part-Greek Tina F. ;-)

Linda Myers said...

Okay! I saw this advertised today and now I think I'll pick it up. Thanks.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Actually this sounds like exactly the sort of book I would like..I read a lot of autobiographies and memoirs so long as they are by 'real' people and not just silly celebrities. Thanks for the recommendation

Kyna said...

Love Tina Fey :D That's one of the many books on my 'to-read' list.

The cover really freaks me out though. :P

Cheeseboy said...

I had no idea that Tina Fey wrote a book. That is definitely a book that I will read. I'll be putting it on hold at the library. Your review makes me want to read it even more. Thanks!

Being Me said...

I've wanted to read this. It looks like a great read. Thanks for breaking your streak and reminding me to go hunt it out!

Pumice said...

Just discovered you were writing again. I had you in my once a month file and did not always check it.

I like Sarah Palin. I also enjoyed watching Tina lampoon her. That is all I have every seen her do. I only pick up stuff like that from people linking to YouTube. Comedy is comedy and we can certainly take ourselves too seriously.

I had never heard of the Rules of Improv. I guess I have been practicing some of that in my classroom to keep the customers laughing.

Again, welcome back.

Grace and Peace.

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