Dear Tina Fey,
Ok, so this isn’t really an “Extremely Urgent letter from the IRS”. I apologize. I only put that on the envelope so that there might be a better chance of your opening it. And if you are reading this, it worked! I hope I didn’t give you too much of a scare. I have no connection to the IRS whatsoever, thankfully, (except that I happily pay my taxes every year.)*
And yes, it’s another fan letter applauding your merits: how you’ve paved the way for other female comedy writers, how you’ve created opportunities for funny female performers, what a page turner your book “Bossy Pants” was… But wait, wait, wait, I sense you yawning. Before you toss this letter aside, allow me to get a little more personal and…surreal.
I am a Registered Dietitian in Seattle, counseling patients daily around a variety of nutrition-related medical issues. (Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for the large amount of donuts and hotdogs that you write about consuming in Bossy Pants.) But strangely, as I read your book, I completely lost track of who I was and where I lived. (My pre-Nutritionist life was that of ravenous New York City actor and writer, forever trying to catch a break in the male dominated world of comedy.) I was suddenly living in Manhattan, another version of myself reading the book in my Upper West Side apartment, with the Bodega on the corner, the 2/3 train a block away and the dramatic feeling of possibility. Not only was I transported to this other dimension, but as I experienced your story, I also felt like I was back re-living my own former New York story alongside it, less successful, of course, but that didn’t matter. (I’ve come to peace with my new kale and quinoa promoting status.) My blood was churning with excitement as I got to witness your success as a comedian which somehow felt like mine and that of all women who are sick of getting stuck in either the “sexless mother” or “sexy hooker” roles on stage and screen. I was internally cheering and clapping for you, like a proud soccer mom, or an annoying but lovable little sister (even though I am a year older than you and do my best to be lovable but not annoying). And then I realized I wasn’t only clapping for you, but clapping for all the funny ladies out there whose voices have yet to be heard, or who are drowned out by boisterous boys who still believe that talking about their penises holds great interest for the population. “Keep going!” I found myself thinking to you. (I say “think” because I didn’t actually say “keep going” aloud to you, but I did think it.)
And, I’ll be honest, you do come across as maybe a little bit on the mean side in your book, but that’s ok! I don’t need for you to be nice. I don’t need for you to be warm and cuddly and complimentary of my new haircut or sorry about the fact that I lost yet another scarf. I have friends and a husband for that. (Yes, my husband actually notices when I get my hair cut! Can you believe it? I’m so lucky.) As you mentioned in your book, a turning point for you was embracing Amy Poehlers’ aphorism “I don’t fucking care what you think”, so I’ll say what I think in this letter because you don’t “fucking care” and I think that is awesome. If more women stopped “fucking caring” about what others thought, the world would have a lot more books/plays/screenplays written by women and L’oreal might be out of business.
So, I thank you. Somewhere, on another plane (I say “plane” meaning astral plane of some kind, not that I’m sure these exist, but I’d like to think that they do) that other version of myself is still reading your book, is inspired, encouraged and has not given up hope or lost her nerve. And then back on this plane – the one where I am a spirulina-loving Registered Dietitian in Seattle who now writes and performs as a hobby instead of a heartbreaking career, I say aloud “keep going!”
Thank you for allowing two versions of me to exist at once and both be satiated.
Sincerely, Mary Purdy
P.S. can you let me know if the “Extremely Urgent letter from the IRS” bit worked? I’d like to use that again in my letters to Amy Sedaris and Kirsten Wiig.
*I put this in there, just in case my letter was seen as “suspicious” and somehow diverted to the IRS. Hello, IRS - I didn’t mean to dis-respect. I know there are letters from the real IRS that are truly urgent. Thanks, IRS, for all you do! Please disregard my p.s. to Tina. I was just joking.