x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Tina au fait with 21st-century woman

The Life: Creator of the critically favoured comedy series 30 Rock, starring Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey has a new book out. April Yee takes a look.

Anyone who saw the image on television of Tina Fey and Sarah Palin in 2008 crossing paths in identical red skirt suits, hair piled and pouffed to heights worthy of a vice presidential campaign, is unlikely to forget it.

That freeze frame from Saturday Night Live marked the real career launch of the woman who, depending on whom you ask, continues to rally or ruin the American political right.

But the other woman in the shot is the one I'm interested in. Ms Fey, the creator of the critically favoured comedy series 30 Rock, starring Alec Baldwin, and the first female head writer for SNL, falls into that limited category of people who most women would like to be and men would like to be with. In Bossypants, Ms Fey writes about her journey from suburban Pennsylvania to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the headquarters of NBC and the namesake of her television show.

Bossypants is as much an autobiography as SNL'sWeekend Update, which Ms Fey once anchored, is a newscast. By deadpanning the absurd, she advances her thesis: being a woman at the top is still a frustrating task.

Ms Fey entered the sketch comedy scene in the 1990s, when the profession was dominated by men.

"Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity," she writes.

Breaking comedy's glass ceiling, according to Ms Fey, is a matter of surrounding yourself with geniuses such as Baldwin and not caring what the boys think.

Every generation of western women has rallied to a feminist text since the day when ladies began to dress like men and adopt open relationships. First came Simone de Beauvoir with The Second Sex in 1949, then Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique in 1963 followed by Naomi Wolf and The Beauty Myth in 1991. I would like to propose Ms Fey as their successor. Ironic, down-to-earth and peppered with references to Baldwin: What more does the 21st century woman need?

The Quote: "People have asked me, 'Is is hard for you, being the boss?' … you know, in the same way they say, 'Gosh, Mr Trump, is it awkward for you to be the boss of all these people?'" Tina Fey, Bossypants

ayee@thenational.ae