Sunday, May 1, 2011


For book club this month we decided to read Tiny Fey's new novel, Bossypants. Why, you ask? First, because she is absolutely hilarious, and we all enjoy a book that makes us laugh out loud on the subway, creeping out any strangers nearby. Second, because she's based in NYC, and living here, I feel like I'm having a bit of an inside joke with any author who also calls this city home. Book club members, if you haven't finished the book yet, you may want to stop reading here. Or, if you're not planning to read the book anyways, keep on going and then you'll have something to talk about at our next meeting.

When I picked up Bossypants, I expected a funny collection of essays about Tina Fey's life. What I got was so much more. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Anecdotes about how a scary Dad (read: Don Fey) can intimidate just about anyone, including Alec Baldwin and Lorne Michaels
  2. A healthy dose of girl power from a woman who started out without a whole lot, and forged ahead until she had her dream job, dream family, and the admission that yes, quite a bit of exhaustion comes along with having it all (but you can get it if you want!)
  3. An explanation for why when something is really awesome, I also refer to it as sick, a word whose synonyms include: ill, nauseous, dizzy, queasy, bored and fed up. Why, you ask? To quote Tina Fey, because, "The more New Yorkers like something, the more disgusted they are." Read: The marble counters in the apartment were so sick they made me want to break my own jaw with a golf club. I can't take it (loosely paraphrased from Bossypants).
  4. Finally understanding that New Yorkers love manicures so much, because according to Tina, it is a good exercise to "sit in an enclosed space full of fumes, holding hands with a stranger for twenty minutes while everyone around you speaks a language you don't understand" that will prepare you for coping with riding the subway. Especially the 6 train.
  5. Admissions that despite being the ultimately successful superstar that she is, Tina still harbors anxieties about her body, has issues with photoshop, and has little fears like telling her babysitter what do do
Then, finally her Rules for Improvisation, that could really be applied to as rules for most life situations (we're really only improvising as we go along right? Right.). Rule number uno is AGREE and SAY YES. If you're into sketch comedy, you understand why this is important to keep the fictional scenario you're improvising from falling flat. In life, though I don't recommend you exclusively agree and say yes, it makes sense to, "start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you." Wouldn't it be so much nicer if everyone came from a place of yes rather than starting with no? Agreement rather than discordance?

Rule two is not only to say yes, but to say YES, AND. In this part, you agree to respect what the person you're interacting with has laid down, and now it's your turn to add something of your own. In other words, contribute, give your two cents, throw your hat in the ring, always make sure that your presence is adding something no matter where you are, or what the situation is. 

The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This means rather than putting all the burden on everyone else in your life to find answers for you, start out with some answers of your own for them to react to. And for women especially, it means break that obnoxious habit of crescendoing at the end of every sentence so you seem unsure. Just go out there and tell people how it is.

Finally, THERE ARE NO MISTAKES. Isn't this a nice way to think about life? If you're in an improv scene, you're not going to stop the show and say no, no, no, this is not how it was supposed to go. In life, you don't often have the opportunity to go back and get a redo, so you might as well just start thinking of all your colossal screw ups as opportunities to either go in a different direction, or reinvent yourself in the current scenario.

Have I convinced you to go out and buy the book yet? 

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