Decided to get the comedy reading done early, partly because they’re on a backlog, and other partly because they’re the easiest to actually finish. They count for cases in which the ends are far less attractive than the means. And this is, of course, because the means involves a lot of banana peels, ugliness, and sad sappery (all of which I can very enthusiastically relate to).
The first is Tina’s Bossypants. Here, I’ve dropped the Fey because we are now intimately connected. We are like lovers in a past life – we once shared the same pain. The second is Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up. A real gem, this one is. Goodreads readers gave good ratings. And if there’s one thing everyone knows about goodreads’ readers, its that they are the ultimate source of astute observations on anything literary. Goodreads pinnacle of Internet.
Actually… no. But BSU was good.
And in comparison, Fey’s writing is funny and enjoyable, except when it seems dismissive. It happens on the rare occasion, and when it does, things get awkward (for me). I might be overly critical of this because the instances I consider dismissive revolve around mentions of Asians. For example, there is the oddly specific mention of asian manicurists (does this necessarily matter?). There’s probably more odd mentions, but I’d have to go plough through some dog ears, and nobody wants that.
I say dismissive, which I already consider to be a harsh term in this context, because she doesn’t mean the odd mention. I’ve gathered it’s some trait of Tina Fey’s to be particular about defining details in a sweeping way. While the previous sentence stews in your brain, I’ll try to slowly make sense of it in other, better words. She seems observant, but so analytical or brainy that details are helpful but non-essential. It then seems like they add colour (pun definitely intended) to her writing without her meaning anything by them. Which is alright, but a little distracting. It does, however, fit with her general schtick.
Speaking of schtick, she goes into detail the process of getting Alec Baldwin to star on 30 Rock. She makes it seem as if he’s the only reason the show ever really did make it. And the lengths to which Fey describes this says more about her capacity as an effective self-depreciator than it does Baldwin’s acting abilities. Because, let’s face it, 30 Rock is really well written. Conceding this, Fey gives due credit to the other writers on the show, going into some detail as to their personalities and motivations behind the show’s best lines. For someone with a self-reference of such a grown-up, scary descriptive term as the one straddling the book cover, Fey seems less sandbox bossypants than she does all-round good boss (that was probably the point……..).
Steve Martin’s writing is more genre-typical. BSU is more autobiography than it is sit down stand-up. There were so many moments in my reading of this that I felt touched or compelled by a paragraph or sentence. I think that Martin’s experience as a comedian, complete with the depressive backdrop to the facade of entertainment, lent itself to wording genuine slices of his life. I mean, there’s amazing experiences in here. He dated Mitzi Trumbo! And he studied philosophy! And he worked at Disneyland!
I expected a comedy manual, and maybe I was a little disappointed in the first few bits through it. But after awhile, I got acquainted with the banjo-wielding, clown nose-wearing, car rental-swearing man from California’s real talk. No spoilers, but I cried like a dog that’s been rained on by the end.
I’ve always liked Steve Martin and Tina Fey. They seem like good people. These books did not make me like them any less.
Bossypants – 11/5/16
BSU – 13/5/16
Would recommend? Yeah, sure.