After each quarter I need a decompress book. By this I mean a book that would never be taught in an English Literature class, yet smart so it keeps my interest.
Enter Bossypants by Tina Fey.
I knew that Fey would be funny but what I didn’t expect, was her insight into the career of a woman writer. Granted, she has worked in comedy—a tough field—but I felt much applied to me.
Fey details her climb through the comedy ranks. How when she began at Second City the famous improv company assigned 4 men and 2 women per group. The rationale was that there wouldn’t be enough parts for women. Fey (I gather, repeatedly) countered, how could this be so when this was an IMPROV group? Even in the 90s, a man in drag might get the part over an actual women. She was told no one would ever want to see a sketch involving two women, and details how the hilarious “Kotex Classic” SNL parody ad was almost nixed because the men had no idea what the women were talking about.
Fey also reveals the process of comedy writing, going through various 30 Rock episodes and how they came together, attributing various MVP lines to the writers. I have say, my lonely world of literary prose seems pretty dull.
And yes, she tells the story of how she came to do her first Sarah Palin impersonation on SNL, the (in my mind now iconic) skit where Fey as Palin and Sarah Poehler as Clinton share the podium to decry sexism on the campaign. (I can see Alaska from my house!) Even juicier is that she publishes a copy of the sketch—along with the penciled in revisions. Writer geek heaven!.
This is all fun stuff. But why we love Fey, is because she's not afraid to write, “That night’s show was watched by ten million people, and I guess that director at The Second City who said the audience ‘didn’t want to see a sketch with two women’ can go shit his hat.”