Frequently, books by comedians tend to be singularly un-funny and even depressing, because they’re lacking the voice and delivery of the author’s voice. Because I got this as an audiobook, and it’s read by Tina Fey herself, that sidestepped the first. It is funny. At times I laughed out loud, like when she described a breast pump as a “Williams-Sonoma tit-juicer.” Other times weren’t as funny, but nothing was flat-out boring.
This is a memoir, so Fey spends quite a bit of time describing her childhood and young adulthood, specifically with the summers she spent with a youth theater group. Her self-deprecating humor plays pretty well, especially in a scene where she describes climbing a mountain in the dark with a gay boy who hated her to win the affection of a third boy they were both hot for.
Fey also spends quite a bit of the book talking about her time with 30 Rock, and with SNL, and especially with the time she did the Sarah Palin impression on SNL. I learned a bit about comedy production that I didn’t know, like what a “sneaker-upper” skit is. She repeated what I’d learned elsewhere, that show business is hard work requiring extra-long hours, and that it’s deeply, deeply sexist.
On one hand, the audiobook format aided the material. Firstly because of the reason I mentioned above, but also because she was able to splice in the audiotrack of some of her most famous scenes, which was much better than just describing them. On the other hand, television is a visual media, and Fey’s time with television seems to have left her unable to go without using visual props. These do not work well in an audiobook. I think this goes without saying. People listen to audiobooks because they don’t want to look at something, for example, if they’re driving or cooking dinner or out on a walk. When she referenced “see the PDF to see what I’m talking about,” it just irked me. I don’t have this PDF, I don’t know where to find it, and even if I did, the section would be kind of faded in my memory so the joke would be lost. I think she should have written those scenes out when she did her audioversion. Asking listeners to rely on a PDF they may or may not have access to is kind of lazy.
But still, it’s funny, and it’s short, and it’s lighthearted fun good for a few laughs.