I read Bossypants by Tina Fey (30 Rock, Mean Girls) on a 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand and I am pretty sure my unhinged belts of laughter were making people very uncomfortable. Tina Fey says “you can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at.” That probably makes me a genius.
The laughter began with her dedication at the start of the book: “For Jeanne Fey: Happy Mother’s Day. I made this out of macaroni for you.” For some reason that tickled me soooo pink. When I write anything, the first people that I want to share it with are my folks. I just want to hand them something that says, your love, support, money, generosity, sweat and tears, has lead me to creating this – whatever the hell this macaroni thing is.
Bossypants follows Tina’s life from her childhood years through growing up and forging a successful career. Tina is self-deprecating when it comes to describing her awkward childhood years. There are photographs to complement her words and I was losing the absolute plot over them. But a real highlight for me was how she writes about her friendship with Amy Poehler – and in particular, a story Tina recalls about a time Amy made a joke on SNL that Jimmy Fallon didn’t like.
Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said: “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.” Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit …
With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.
I loved everything about that. Tina and Amy were not going to edit their material because men didn’t understand it: they were confident in their hilarity and knew they would find an audience. I think the success of the TV series and films they have written validates that confidence.
Even though this is a book about the life and times of Tina Fey, so much of her life’s stories feature Amy as a main character. As well as admiring her sass, Tina talks about Amy like they are soul mates. It is so divine to see women this supportive of each other. They were legends on Saturday Night Live together before they pursued individual careers in 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Even then it didn’t matter how successful either one individually became. There was no jealousy between them. Reading how supportive Tina and Amy were of each other, especially when they were being nominated for awards in the same category, was inspiring. They have had each other’s backs for decades.
I have this list in my head of the most hilarious women in the world. On that list is Tina Fey. There is also one of my best friends, Ren McLennan, the funniest person I have ever met. She’s made me laugh so hard that I’ve nearly stopped breathing. She is the Tina to my Amy.
I hope that everyone has a friendship like Tina and Amy – that other person in the world that makes you laugh your ass off every day and supports you no matter what. But if you don’t and you need something to get you through until you find your Amy or Tina, there is Bossypants.