In PA With Tina Fey (and Why I’m Still Mad at NBC, By the Way…)

A client finished Bossypants just before seeing me and she gave me her copy. In light of my recent heavy-lifting readingwise, this was just what the doctor ordered. Unlike Ulysses, I could read it while my daughter watched Phineas and Ferb. And I found out that she and my grandfather grew up in the same place. I have teensy fantasies it could have been the same house, but I won’t check so that I can keep them. Ironically, she married a guy with the same last name as the same grandfather, who is also from PA, so now I can fantasize that we are related (distanly…through marriage…).

I had some unexpected discoveries reading this book. I spent years training in a model of group therapy known as Systems-Centered Therapy. In the initial stages of training there is a lot of emphasis on how to create something called a “functional subgroup.” Creating functional subgroups tends to help groups explore things more deeply, resolve conflict, etc. The cool part is the skills you use to create a functional subgroup also appear to be exactly the same as the skills that underlie good improv. Tina Fey describes them in a section entitled “The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat*” Check it out. She’s not overselling it. Well, except for the belly fat part, which if you read the footnote, she says wasn’t true anyhow.

A less pleasant discovery was that my “eh” reaction to 30 Rock, which I have sometimes thought was a lingering bias from something I’m still very sore at NBC about (don’t worry, I’ll tell you) is probably not that. I really just don’t like 30 Rock. Fine, hate me. The ironic thing is that while she says that 30 Rock is critically successful, but not mainstream enough comedywise to really have a huge following, I dislike it cause it’s too mainstreamy for me. See, here is my previous grudge: the same year 30 Rock debuted, so did a show on a very similar theme (behind the scenes at an SNL type show) written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing‘s Aaron Sorkin): Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I thought it was @($)%*(# brilliant. I thought 30 Rock wasn’t. I thought it was no contest. So did NBC. They just thought the wrong other one was better. Anyway, in this book there are what Tina Fey sees as home run jokes from 30 Rock–they don’t make me want to give up my reading time to watch. Whereas if they revived Studio 60, I’d have to change the goals on that lovely score sheet cause I’d be glued to the TV. I do really like Tina Fey on SNL and in her book. So don’t hate me too much, ok?

Here’s what I said about the book on Goodreads, where I declined to rant about group therapy and NBC’s programming choices:

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Funny book. Think of this as 3 1/2 stars. It’s a good book, but it’s not Austen or Eliot or Atwood or any of those other folks I give 4 stars to. And I tend to be really stingy with 5s. So trust me–it’s funny and off-beat and self-deprecating and all the things you’d expect from Tina Fey. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to give you a good taste of it because the humor builds across a section, and I’d probably be sued for copyright stuff if I gave you enough to get a taste (but you can do it with the Amazon Look Inside feature). Trust me, it is funny enough in parts to have had me annoying my husband who is trying to sleep cause I couldn’t stifle the laughs enough. It’s fun to walk through Tina Fey’s life. And I came away not only liking her politics (which always helps) but liking her. I think she is a nice person. That’s a good thing. And boy was this a quick and easy read compared to most of what I have on my bookshelf. Think of it as a palate cleanser between the serious stuff.

View all my reviews

And the aforementioned scoresheet (Curse You, NBC the network! Edition)

Around the World (goal: 52 total including at least 6 in each of 6 different regions) 14
Asia/Mideast: 4 (Israel, China, Afghanistan, Japan)
Africa: 1 (Madagascar)
Europe: 4 (England/UK, Ireland, Monaco, Poland)
Caribbean/Central America/North America: 3 (US, Cuba, Haiti)
Oceania: 1 (Fiji)
South America:
Extra: 1 (Scotland)

Around the US (goal: 50 states, DC, and PR): 6 (CA, CO, MS, NY, PA, RI)

1001 Books (goal 52): 11

A to Z challenge (must be completed in order–26 author last names A to Z then 26 titles A to Z–strategy is all!): 11
Authors: Auster, Beinart, Chandler, Donovan, Eugenides, Faulkner, Grau, Hosseini, Ishiguro, Joyce, King
Books:

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About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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