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Bossypants Cover (Tina Fey) - 200px.jpeg
Author Tina Fey
Audio read by Tina Fey
Country United States
Language English
Genre Autobiography
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
April 5, 2011
Media type Print
Pages 277
ISBN 0-316-05686-3
LC Class PN2287.F4255 A3 2011

Bossypants is an autobiographical comedy book written by the American comedian Tina Fey.[1][2][3] The book topped The New York Times Best Seller list, and stayed there for five weeks upon its release.[4] As of November 2014, the book has sold over 2.5 mllion copies since its debut, according to Nielsen BookScan.[5] Additionally, Fey's Grammy nominated narration of the audiobook has sold over 150,000 copies on[6] A paperback reprint edition was released in January 2012, from Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown.


Tina Fey holding a copy of Bossypants on her book tour at a Barnes & Noble in New York City April 8, 2011.

In 2008, the prospect of a Tina Fey book was reportedly the subject of a bidding war among publishers, which led to an advance of $6 million.[7] As part of her deal with Little, Brown & Co., a gift was made to the New York-based Books for Kids Foundation.[8]


Fey uses humorous anecdotes to tell her life story, including how she came to be on Saturday Night Live and how she created 30 Rock.[1]

Chapter One: Origin Story[edit]

Fey recalls the childhood attack that left her with a facial scar, and how others have reacted to it. Fey also talks about how it was a way to see a different perspective on life.

Chapter Two: Growing Up and Liking It[edit]

Fey relays her childhood in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, her mother's squeamish attitude to explaining menstruation, and her feelings about when girls become women. She describes her first visit to a gynecologist as a young woman in Rogers Park, Chicago, in which she passed out.

Chapter Three: All Girls Must be Everything[edit]

Fey describes a summer in Wildwood, New Jersey with her cousins, whom she credits with teaching her everything about womanhood and beauty. She criticizes the impossible standards of mainstream American beauty existing today, particularly the mythic status afforded to blonde hair, and describes all her physical forms she has since come to appreciate.

Chapter Four: Delaware County Summer Showtime[edit]

Fey recalls her time as a teenager at the Delaware County Summer Showtime (a somewhat edited version of the Upper Darby Summer Stage). There, she makes friends with several "half-closeted" gay men, and two 25-year-old lesbians called Karen and Sharon. She describes an awkward coming-out at a high school party with students from Archbishop Prendergast High School, her experiences with a homophobic gym teacher, and her own realization that she was using her gay friends as "props".

Chapter Five: That's Don Fey[edit]

A tribute to Fey's father - his "handsome but terrifying" face in repose, his style, his many skills (mystery writing, woodworking, fluent Greek), his devotion to Philadelphia sports teams and his Goldwater Republican politics. Fey also describes her father's "pre-Norman Lear attitude towards race-relations," which involved dancing with Lionel Hampton at a concert when others would not, whilst also cautioning his children to avoid black kids from West Philadelphia. She remembers a particular incident in 1979 when she and her father attempt to return a bottle of carpet shampoo.

Chapter Six: Climbing Old Rag Mountain[edit]

Fey describes her time as a student at the University of Virginia, in particular a time when a potential love interest (whom she describes as "a young, handsome Robert Wuhl") invited her to climb Old Rag Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Chapter Seven: Young Men's Christian Association[edit]

After moving to Chicago on Halloween of 1992 to take improv classes at The Second City Theater, Fey takes a day job working the front desk at a YMCA in Evanston, Illinois in the early morning. She describes the many members of the YMCA, many with mental problems, and the staff, including Donna, a receptionist with limited capacity for conversation. She describes her sadness at seeing the members' Christmas dinner, an outburst from one of the members while off his medication, her frustration with the office hierarchy and her decision to escape the front desk by "stealing" an office-job from Donna.

Chapter Eight: The Windy City, Full of Meat[edit]

Fey describes her early career as an improv comedian at The Second City in Chicago, and why she loves improv. She describes the rules for successful improv comedy, and recalls her time as a member of the Second City touring company "Blue Co" with Amy Poehler and Ali Farahnakian. She discovers what she calls "the myth of not enough", where women are made to believe they are only in competition with each other. She petitions the Second City to add an extra woman to the main stage companies, and is hired (because, as she describes it, Amy Poehler was moving to New York City with the Upright Citizen's Brigade, and she was the next best thing).

Chapter Nine: My Honeymoon, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Either[edit]

In 2001, after marrying comedy director and composer Jeff Richmond, Fey and her husband take a honeymoon cruise from New York to Bermuda (the title of this chapter is a reference to the David Foster Wallace essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again). Fey and Richmond chose a cruise because Richmond does not like to fly, but Fey does not enjoy the trip. A fire breaks out aboard, and Fey is forced to procure anti-anxiety medication for her husband as they are evacuated and flown back to New York City.

Chapter Ten: The Secrets of Mommy's Beauty[edit]

Fey dispenses her advice for beauty, including various rules for skincare she remembers through mnemonic devices, and remembers her discussion on the correct application of eye-cream with Marci Klein and Monica Lewinsky during a meeting in 1999, her first short haircut from a professional Ann Jillian-lookalike-turned-hairdesser and her experiences with Korean manicures after moving to New York in 1997.

Chapter Eleven: Remembrances of Being Very, Very Skinny[edit]

Fey remembers the time in the early 2000s when she lost a significant amount of weight while living in New York.

Chapter Twelve: Remembrances of Being a Little Bit Fat[edit]

Fey remembers the time in the late 1990s in Chicago, when she was over-weight.

Chapter Thirteen: A Childhood Dream, Realized[edit]

Fey describes her move from Chicago to New York in 1997, to audition for Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live. Although she believes she has botched the interview, Fey gets a job as a writer for SNL, and forges a strong working relationship and friendship with Michaels. He teaches her several lessons about managing people and a television show, which she has applied to her later work on 30 Rock. She also tells the story of reacting with extreme fear and panic when Rockefeller Center was subjected to an Anthrax attack, when she abandoned the crew and host of the week Drew Barrymore and walked to her home on West End Avenue.

Chapter Fourteen: Peeing in Jars With Boys[edit]

Fey describes her first show for Saturday Night Live in 1997 with Sylvester Stallone, and the frustration she feels when Cheri Oteri is passed over for the role of Adrian Pennino in a Rocky parody in favor of Chris Kattan in drag. This stands in contrast to her experience at the end of her tenure at SNL in 2006, when Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph have become big and respected stars. She also reveals what she believes is the biggest difference between male and female comedians - male comedians, like former SNL head-writer Steve Higgins, sometimes pee into cups and jars in their offices. In a sub-story, Fey describes attempting to get a commercial parody written by her friend Paula Pell produced. The parody is a nostalgia-themed commercial for 1950s-style Kotex maxipad belts, which the male comedy writers fail to understand.

Chapter Fifteen: I Don't Care If You Like It[edit]

Described as one of a series of love letters to Amy Poehler, Fey describes her excitement when her friend Poehler joins SNL in 2001. In her first table read-through, Poehler puts then-SNL star Jimmy Fallon in his place when he tells her he does not like a particular comedy bit she is doing, telling him "I don't fucking care if you like it!" Fey considers this the best rebuttal to those like Jerry Lewis and Christopher Hitchens who believe women are not funny.

Chapter Sixteen: Amazing, Gorgeous, Not Like That[edit]

Fey describes her experiences with magazine photo shoots, including working with photographers Annie Liebowitz and Mario Testino. She describes her attitudes towards Photoshopping, and her favorite experience as a cover-model, for the feminist magazine Bust.

Chapter Seventeen: Dear Internet[edit]

Fey responds to some of her anonymous internet critics.

Chapter Eighteen: 30 Rock: An Experiment to Confuse Your Grandparents[edit]

In 2006 Fey leaves SNL to develop a new show for NBC, which gradually becomes the sitcom 30 Rock. She successfully persuades Alec Baldwin to join the show and film a pilot for NBC, which is picked up (largely, she believes, because of Baldwin's involvement) despite network misgivings. She assembles a writing staff including Donald Glover, Jack Burditt and Kay Cannon. After its debut in 2006, the show is not an initial success, so Fey allows her writers considerable freedom to explore new and unusual ideas. The apex of this unconventional approach is the episode "Black Tie", the final of their initial order, which they also call "Goodbye, America". The show is picked up for a full season (which Fey again attributes to Baldwin's involvement), and goes on to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Fey closes this chapter by answering some frequently asked questions about 30 Rock.

Chapter Nineteen: Sarah, Oprah and Captain Hook[edit]

After recounting being cast on Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon in 2000, Fey describes her experience in 2008, when she simultaneously portrays then-Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin on SNL, shoots scenes for the 30 Rock episode "Believe in the Stars" with Oprah Winfrey, and plans a Peter Pan-themed party for her daughter Alice's birthday. This includes her difficulties in providing a script Oprah will agree to, her "Sneaker Upper" encounter with Palin on SNL, and the increased visibility (and criticism) she receives after her Palin impersonation debuts, even from her Republican parents.

Chapter Twenty: There's a Drunk Midget in My House[edit]

Fey recalls the birth of her first child, daughter Alice, including her feelings on attempting to breast-feed.

Chapter Twenty One: A Celebrity Guide to Celebrating The Birth of Jesus[edit]

Fey describes her Christmas ritual of driving from her parents home in Philadelphia to her in-laws near Youngstown, Ohio. Her husband's family are country folk who are not particularly impressed with New York, so Fey suggests a compromise by meeting halfway in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is hailed as a great success.

Chapter Twenty Two: Juggle This[edit]

After her daughter comes home with a book about a witch called My Working Mommy, Fey recalls her anxieties about working outside the home. This includes referring to her full-time nanny as a "babysitter" because the other word gives her race—and class—anxiety, avoiding awkward conversations with the nanny about cutting her daughter's fingernails, and crying over family stress in the office.

Chapter Twenty Three: A Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter[edit]

Fey expresses her hopes and dreams for her daughter, including the hope that she will understand her mother's sacrifices when she has her own child.

Chapter Twenty Four: What Turning 40 Means to Me[edit]

In one sentence, Fey describes what's changed in her life since turning 40.

Chapter Twenty Five: What Should I Do With My Last 5 Minutes?[edit]

Fey questions whether she should spend her next years having a second child, or pursuing further film offers, as she believes film offers and chances of getting pregnant both trail off as women get older. She recalls a time when her mother, a Greek-American, babysat for two Greek children who believe they have been abandoned. Fey sees herself in these two panicking Greek children, who have no idea yet that everything will be fine.


Bossypants received greatly positive reviews, Janet Maslin for The New York Times calls Bossypants "a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation."[1] Katie Roiphe for Slate is favorable toward the humor in Bossypants, especially how Fey wields jokes as a personal display of power.[9] The book was also praised by Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, "...any concern that Fey, like so many before her, has been ruined by fame is quickly dispelled by Bossypants, a book that reminds you why Fey has succeeded where so many have failed — because she is precise, professional and hilarious."[10] Ellen Wernecke of The A.V. Club similarly said of Fey, "The artistry of her autobiography-turned-polemic raises the bar for every comedian who dares put cursor to Word doc."[11]

It received a more mixed review from Carole Cadwalladr of The Observer, however, who opined, "There's lots to enjoy, particularly if you are, as I am, a Tina Fey fan girl. It's just the bookiness of it. Fey is out of her genre, and it shows: it takes an age to get going, and it's less like prose non-fiction than a sketch comedy in book form, with a disproportionate number of one-liners, not all of which work."[12]


  1. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (3 April 2011). "'Bossypants' by Tina Fey - Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Fey, Tina (2011). Bossypants. New York: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 978-0-316-05686-1. 
  3. ^ Fey, Tina; Narrated by Tina Fey (2011). Bossypants (Audiobook). London: Hachette Audio. 
  4. ^ "Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Lewis, Andy (November 13, 2014). "Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham Books Debut on Par With Tina Fey's Megahit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ Bosman, Julie (October 2, 2011). "Stars Will Read Amazon Unit's New Audio Book Series". Media Decoder (blog). The New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Kelly, Keith J. (October 1, 2008). "Fey Eyes Big Pay Day: Publishers Toss $6m Book Offer for '30 Rock' Star". New York Post. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ Neyfakh, Leon (October 3, 2008). "Little, Brown Will Publish Tina Fey Book". The New York Observer. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ Roiphe, Katie (30 March 2011). "Tina Fey's Tough Girl Feminism: The rough humor in Fey's new book Bossypants is exactly what the movement needs". Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  10. ^ McNamara, Mary (April 4, 2011). "Review: 'Bossypants' by Tina Fey is funny and heartfelt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  11. ^ Wernecke, Ellen (April 28, 2011). "Tina Fey: Bossypants". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  12. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (23 April 2011). "Bossypants by Tina Fey – review". The Observer. Retrieved September 30, 2016.