Funny Parts includes lots of stories and a tonnage of names dropped, but it still seems that Scovell’s on a quest. Larded with aperçus and advice, this is another one of those girlfriend memoirs — a femoir — the sort mastered by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling that sell brilliantly and are devoured in an afternoon. It’s a very jokey, often charming book, but Scovell also seems to be in search of that home run, a 30 Rock to call her own, which makes the reader root for her all the more.
Now Scovell has written her own book...part personal memoir, part overview of why television comedy writing staffs are not exactly hotbeds of diversity, and part expert guide to forging a career as a comedy writer. This third part will be fascinating to those interested in how the comedy sausage is made. She breaks down the television show scriptwriting process from initial pitch to structuring the episode, the scene-by-scene outline, the first draft, and ultimately the shooting script. Even more importantly, she reveals how a writer should respond to feedback ... There are loads of good jokes and sharp observations. And if Scovell’s perspective is more Clintonesque Ivy League reformer than paradigm-questioning subversive (jokes about Facebook, which certainly presents a giant target, are conspicuous by their absence), she offers an honest, demystifying glimpse into the world of the men (and some women) behind the comedy curtain.
The bar for contemporary women-in-comedy books was set in 2011 with Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which managed advice that was both hilarious and accurate ... Scovell’s lessons are less jokey and more emotionally bare; she even confesses a few things that our feminist foremothers have taught us to keep buttoned up — like the lines that she crossed, too — which feels freeing. Overall, though, Just the Funny Parts functions best not when Scovell is recounting some backstage encounter ... For aspiring writers, the book has just enough practical advice on story pitches and script editing to qualify as a how-to ... Just as she is getting to that last stage, however, she meets [Sheryl] Sandberg, whose spirit infuses this book ... and for the reader, that emotional shift comes not a moment too soon, as one thing that’s sacrificed in her litany of miscreants is a larger sense of why she loves or even wants a career in entertainment anymore.