her second piece in The New Yorker in the last month — both excerpts are from her upcoming book, Bossypants — she, ahem, blows the lid off the one major difference she’s noted between male and female comedy writers: “The men urinate in cups. And sometimes jars.” She goes on to describe, in harrowingly funny and truthful detail, encountering cups and jars of pee in various male-dominated offices and writers’ rooms. This is a more illuminating fact than you might imagine: “Not all of the men at SNL whizzed in cups. But four or five out of 20 did, so the men have to own that one. Anytime there’s a bad female standup somewhere, some idiot Interblogger will deduce that ‘women aren’t funny.’ Using that same math, I can deduce that male comedy writers also piss in cups.”Tina Fey has finally broken the men-vs.-women in comedy debate down into terms we can really understand. In
Fey further explains that guys in comedy-land sometimes aren’t so much sexist as just clueless, as when some male producers on Saturday Night Live originally rejected a female writer’s idea for a commercial parody featuring “Kotex Classic,” with women wearing old ’60s-era sanitary-napkin belts peeking out over low-rise jeans. The men deemed it “too difficult to produce,” but it turned out they just didn’t get it. “They didn’t seem to know how cumbersome a sanitary-napkin belt was,” Fey writes. “It was the moment I realized that there was no ‘institutionalized’ sexism’ at this place — sometimes the guys just literally didn’t know what we were talking about. In the same way that I was not familiar with the completely normal custom of pissing in jars, they had never been handed a bulging antique Kotex product by the school nurse.”
If these insights aren’t exactly why Tina Fey has made it the extremely male comedy world — and why I’ll be buying her book the second it comes out — I don’t know what is. As she says early in the essay, “Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.” I, for one, never stop being thankful Lorne Michaels took a chance on her.
What about you, PopWatchers? Are you looking forward to Fey’s book as much as I am?