Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    Here's the deal; Tina Fey is hilarious. Really, really funny. I'm a fan. So, I expected this book to be a ton of fun.
    And sometimes it is. Sometimes the observations are exactly what we want from Fey; sharp and witty and yet still warm. But, more often than I'd hoped, it is a collection of stories that will only appeal to people who know/knew Fey personally, work in television, or are beyond rabid fans of SNL/30 Rock.
    Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of 30 Rock. But I don't care to know every behind the scenes "how the series of meetings went that led to me playing Sarah Palin/getting Oprah on the show" anecdote. The parts of this book that are a larger comment on society's problems and quirks are Fey at her best. But when the book gets more memoir (particularly those parts that focus on her growing up years) the stories just aren't that interesting/funny. I listened to this on audio, narrated by Fey, and Fey helps make this personal history funnier. But not that much. It's not that bad. It's just not that good, either. Which is a shame.
    It's also worth mentioning that this book is snarkier than necessary. That may seem like a weird thing to say about any book written by a comedian, particularly one that I have already described as "sharp and witty." Isn't snark just a part of that? But one of the great things about Fey is how she walks snark up to the line of outright meanness, but rarely crosses it. And that still happens here...sometimes. Unfortunately, too many times, that's not the case at all. When the people she's lampooning/belittling are former classmates/teachers/acquaintances/etc. who cannot defend themselves/may have become better people in the past 20-25 years it feels a bit too personal in the sense that she still seems to be taking some past stuff too personally. Other times she turns her targets too easily into stereotypes, even though she often objects to others who do the same.
    I wanted this book to be nicer. Not sappy and not trite, but kind. Winsome. Wise. My sense is that Fey is all of these things. And sometimes her book reflects that. But not enough of the time. Too much of the time it feels like a book written by Liz Lemon that Tina Fey would reference to show us how Lemon still has some growing to do. Remember that episode of 30 Rock when Liz Lemon attends a reunion and discovers that she wasn't the bullied, but the bully? This book needs to watch that episode.
    Listen, there's stuff in here worth reading and I had moments when I laughed out loud. But I also had moments when I cringed at what came off like the smart kid picking on the dumb kid simply because the dumb kid is sometimes mean. It doesn't make it feel any better and Fey strikes me as better than that.

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