Bossypants, by Tina Fey

To say that Tina Fey is important to funny women (and women writers) everywhere is like saying that Barbara Walters is kinda a big deal in tv news. We all know who Tina is, we all appreciate the work she’s done, and while she’s stood on the shoulders of the funny women before her (Jane Curtain, Madeline Khan, Jan Hooks, Bernadette Peters to name some of my favorite) she’s done what none of them could do: lead the bad boys of comedy into a smarter, more equal world of laughter.

I know it’s something we all say about the celebrities we hold in high regard: “We would totally be friends!” And then it starts to get creepy when you realize the regular person actually means it. But I mean this, truly. Tina and I would be such good friends.

OK, OK, probably after a while her bossiness would remind me of an older sister and I’d bail, but up until that point, it would be glorious. We would eat cake with our hands, talk about how problematic Bridget Jone’s Diary is from a female standpoint (144 pounds is overweight? Eff you in the bee hole, Hollywood.) and yet we will inexplicably watch it every time it comes on the Lifetime network, and then we’ll make fart jokes sound intellectual. I’d pull out my spiral of parody commercials I’ve been writing since I saw Colon Blow on SNL and she’d punch them up to make them even better, and then a gentle rock song would play and we’d chase each other in slow motion around the kitchen island, laden with foods and drink.  And we would be laughing.  And dancing. Maybe have a hilarious pillow fight, who knows?

Good times.

And that’s what’s so great about her, she’s Our Friend. Like Oprah, but not so condescending and God-driven to make us read book after book of rape victims. And less free cars, I imagine. Tina’s clearly educated, she is filled to the brim with common sense, and she’s naturally hilarious. Plus, she’s a little mean, but in that “I’ve been left out of the group, so let’s talk smack” way that we all do. Yes we do, don’t even act like you haven’t bitched about someone behind their back.

She’s also incredibly supportive to the women around her, which is another way that she’s Oprah-esque. But again, with less “people, tell me how great I am,” and more, “oh my god, that’s hilarious! Everyone? Look at how hilarious Paula is!” (And Paula Pell is hilarious. She’s been a writer at SNL since 1995 and is helming her own show to come soon, keep your eyes peeled for that.)

She has a story about Amy Poehler that makes me love Amy even more than I already did. It’s Amy’s first day at SNL, it’s their long day of pitching and writing, and Amy tells someone a filthy joke using loads of crude words. Jimmy Fallon feigns being shocked and telling her to stop it, it’s gross and not cute. Amy, not realizing he’s joking, whips around with death in her eyes and tells him that she “doesn’t fucking care if [he] likes it.” YES. Amy wasn’t there to be the sweet girl (read: straight man for the funny guys to bounce lines off of), she was there to play a one-legged white trash chick that thinks she’s hot and farts a lot. And that wasn’t a reference to her Hilary Clinton impression, by the way. I know those get confused.

Bossypants is a how-to book for wanna be writers, but it isn’t just that. It’s how you can feel pride in yourself, the things you like, how to accept them even though they might be ridiculous; that’s pretty much the point of this whole site, honestly. It’s not weird to her that she’s a woman that is in charge of men (and how insulting to ask a woman that!) She owns her geek cred, she owns her bad hair, acne and her scar. She will not go into detail about how it came about aside from a deranged man slashed her when she was 5 years old. And honestly, what more do you need to know? A deranged person attacked a child, nothing else can satisfy you. Would you understand him more if it was because of race, or nationality, or whatever? No, it wouldn’t. Good for her.

But the real question is: is this book funny? You’re joking, right? I almost drowned myself in my tub from laughing and losing control of my muscles and I was only on page four. If this next bit doesn’t make you want to rush out and buy the book, then I am totally breaking up with you.

Background: her mother was scared to talk about menstruation with Tina as a young girl, so she left her with a “So Your Uterus Is Shedding Its Lining!” kit – I remember getting one of those, too – and how one of the pamphlets was disguised as a series of letters between besties but outlined the Facts About Your Flow.

Dear Ginny,

I finally got my “friend” today!! Yay!! It’s about time! If I roller-skate while I’m MEN-STRU-HATING, will I die?

Dear Pam,

Of course you can roller-skate! Don’t be silly! But be careful of odor, or neighborhood dogs may try to bite your vagina. Friends forever, Ginny

I tried to think about another female comedienne that was as popular as she is that made jokes about vaginas and period blood that men laughed at and I couldn’t think of a one. Oh, there was Elaine Boozler back in the 80s that used the word “vagina” and was bleeped on national tv, but that’s the point. And seriously? You bleep “vagina?” But sex and murder are a-ok, network television? I see.  Well, that’s a topic for another day.

There was one part of the book where I thought she’d lost me. She was talking about how important it was to breastfeed, how mothers owe it to their children, and I bristled. Because the Nursing Nazis are everywhere, I know that I have to make the following statement: yes, it’s good for babies to be nursed. You know what else is good for babies? Mothers that aren’t a nervous, weeping wreck. Oh, and food, that’s good for babies I hear. However that happens, putting food into babies is pretty solid on the “should do” list of baby care.

I have three kids, by the way, not one of them was breastfed. And I would also like to state that all three of them have made the honor roll in their homeschooling (but just barely!) and after a little corrective surgery, they all were healthy babies with ten fingers and toes (we’ll put the missing ten on one day) and you can hardly see the webbing between their nostrils. So in your face, breastefeeders!

Tina’s first baby came and she fell prey to the Teat Nazis (as she calls them) and did everything she could to get her daughter to nurse. She even attempted the “Bret Michael,” which is when you hover over the baby as it sleeps and put your nipple in its mouth, waking it up to suck. But it didn’t work, the baby was hungry, and guess what: bottles are ok. I realized that she had to have a long set up of how great it is to breastfeed so she doesn’t get firebombed by a group of hippies with 12 year olds dangling from their distended breasts.

She’s the kind of writer that makes me want to improve myself, to surround myself with hilarious and smart women, and then curl up with some ice cream and watch crappy shows if only to get material to mock later. She’s good people, is what I’m saying. Oh, and one last thing. She did ask in her book for someone to explain just what’s so great about apple butter and I have this to say: it’s like an apple cobbler smashed up that you get to put on bread and eat any time you want. That’s what’s so great. Although I will concede that pumpkin butter is way better.

Bossypants is on bookshelves now, or you can download to your Kindle/Nook/TRS-80. I loved this book so much I want to take it behind the library and make it pregnant.