This is the work of an improviser who has parlayed the art form’s basic tenets – saying yes and not ‘being afraid to contribute’ – into a successful career. In this linear, fast-paced narrative of her life, Fey takes the reader through her youthful adventures as she leads up to the high points of her career. Whether talking Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock or a childhood memory of her dad abandoning her in the grocery store, she punctuates her tales with humorous insights and one-liners.
Fey juxtaposes her stories with advice. Addressing the perfectionist artist, she says, ‘You can’t be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.’ These moments of advice are comedic, yes. But as she reminds us when talking about her infamous Sarah Palin sketch, there can be heavy truths behind all things funny. ‘You watched a sketch about feminism and you didn’t even realise it because of all the jokes. Suckers!’
As Bossypants jumps genres, from memoir to self-help book, it can feel disjointed. Fey even makes room for excerpts from scripts written by the numerous, freakishly talented comedians and writers she’s worked with, love notes to colleagues and responses to unflattering comments left about her on celebrity blogs. But in spite of the scattered structure, Fey’s message is clear: you too can achieve success in life – especially if
you resemble a well-known politician. Also, you should be laughing more.