Tina Fey is funny--oh, we already know that. We also know of her involvement with Saturday Night Live (SNL) as a writer, for her impersonation of Sarah Palin, and for being the power behind 30 Rock. What we did not know was that she could write a book about management skills to rival those written by Coach K or Jack Walsh.
In BOSSYPANTS, Ms Fey tells briefly of her childhood as a nerd living in Pennsylvania with normal parents. The local theater group was the start of her interest in show business. After college, she worked with The Second City, an improvisation theater based in Chicago.
The Second City has become famous as a training ground for other actors such as John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Catherine O’Hara, Stephen Colbert, and on and on. Along with her description of her time there, Ms Fey also gives the rules of Improvisation. These rules are the basics for shows like SNL and explain why it must be nerve wracking for the actor, but so much fun for the audience.
Bits and pieces of her personal life are told with honesty. She tells of her honeymoon on a cruise that turned almost fatal, her adventures as a mother with an unsuccessful try at breast feeding, her halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty, and why she likes Williamsport, Pennsylvania (it is half way between her home and that of her in-laws, making it a good place for holiday meetings).
Being a woman in a male dominated industry has always been a “good story”. Under the humor, this book reminds us that all sexual bias has not been eliminated. It was surprising that female executives still fight the battles of prejudice that we fought in the 1950’s. Again, even these stories are told with a light touch.
BOSSYPANTS is the type of “showbiz” autobiography that I enjoy. I am not interested in who slept with whom or other bits of gossip. What I want is insight into character: I want the story of how the person managed to be come successful, no matter what the field of endeavor.
If you are not a fan of SNL or 30 Rock, you will still enjoy reading about a woman who enjoys fame, seems to stay very grounded, and can give lessons on management skills.