Let’s talk books! Let’s talk good books! Let’s talk books that make your world spin in a different direction! Let’s talk ‘the best thing that happened to me’ kind of books.
Let’s talk Yes Please by Amy Poehler… which may not necessarily be any of the above, but which you might like regardless.
Yes Please is part memoir, part magazine-style advice column, part ‘Let me just ramble here for a page or ten’ brought to you by Leslie Knope. Yup, this isn’t a typo – the book has a distinctive Knope’s voice, and it is quite easy to believe that Amy Poehler and the beloved character portrayed by her are actually one and the same person – they’re similarly quirky, eccentric, and set on getting things done.
Frankly, I was waiting for this book to come out ever since Tina Fey graced this world with her brilliant beyond imagining Bossypants, followed closely by the not any less epic Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
Yes Please seemed like a logical and a much needed addition to this crown of jewels. Or, at least, that’s what it was meant to be, I presume. Well, it almost worked.
Who there doesn’t know Amy Poehler? One must live under a rock not to hear about her Sunday Night Live skits. That’s not to mention the absolute epicness called Parks and Rec, or Poehler’s co-hosting the Golden Globe Awards with her bestie and partner in crime Tina Fey. Now and then it feels like Amy Poehler is everywhere these days, which is not at all a bad thing. No wonder she decided to immortalize her memories. The world must know and remember its heroes!
Here are some things we’ve learned from Ms. Poelher:
1. Writing books is hard. Really hard. Like, REALLY hard!! Poehler spends a few pages talking about sleepless nights and crazy amounts of work and having to balance her personal life with long nights on her laptop, typing away her wisdom.
2. Doing improve is hard. Doing comedy is hard. Being an actor and a writer and a director and a producer and a mother is exhausting, and is often akin to banging your head on the wall. All of these things are also the very best, and are totally worth your time and effort if you want to be good at them.
3. Finding ‘your people’ is the key because they’ll make your life and your work the absolute best. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to work on your dream project once or twice in a lifetime, and maybe you’ll also make the best of friends in the process. So if that happens – make sure to treasure every moment of it.
4. There’s nothing wrong with trying things, but hard drugs are bad. Don’t ruin your own life and those of people around you because it’s not worth it. But don’t be too hard on yourself – because YOLO! Just keep in mind that being recklessly self-destructive may not always be a good idea.
5. Tine Fey rocks! (Not that we didn’t know it already.)
*6. I am not the only person who never sleeps. Well, it does make me feel better – like finding a new member of my own tribe after thinking that they were all long extinct. I kid you not!
Now, about the bad parts…
In the beginning of the book, Amy Poehler warns her readers that it may not necessarily be the best thing you’d ever pick up and asks them to lower their expectation. Please do follow this advice. I don’t like admitting it, but overall Yes Please was a bit of a letdown. I believe I’ve already mentioned it not being a proper memoir or a proper anything, so let’s talk about that.
Yes Please is quite unstructured, and although it pretty much covers Poehler’s childhood and early adult life, as well as her long and uneasy way towards acting and writing success, most of the stories are scattered and unchronological. You may be reading about her childhood and then suddenly jump 3 decades forwards to the SNL memories only to come back to the college years a couple of pages later. And this is how the entire book works. It felt like she started with a more or less linear narration, but then started remembering random anecdotes from her life and added them along the way. Imagine the book going like, “I grew up in a small town, and then I liked smoking pot in college, and speaking of pot – my dad liked it, too, and Tina Fey is great, and I had my baby right before the big SNL night, but let me first tell you about how my parents met. OMG Parks and Rec was a dream! Divorces are hard.” You get the idea.
Unlike many, I didn’t find the pages filled with affirmations and old letters and awkward photographs distracting or out of place. They give Yes Please a special, distinctive character. I would, however, prefer it to have a more or less established memoir format and go from one thing to another instead of jumping randomly between different decades of Poehler’s life as if she tore pages from her diary and arranged them in a ‘mix and match’ way without the actual matching part.
It’s funny though, and Amy Poehler is witty and honest about her life and career choices, which makes it a fun read. Also, the stories about her pothead years are amusing. (Please don’t do pot!) The way she talks about her colleagues and co-stars is truly heartwarming, and it’s really hard for me to sit here, typing all this instead of packing for NYC where I’d audition for SNL and have the time of my life.
The key to enjoying Yes Please is to not compare it to anything you’ve ever read before. Amy Poehler is not Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, or Rachel Dratch – she is Amy Poehler, eccentric and funny and someone you’d be happy to be friend with, as long as you’re okay with her weird forced humor and crazy eyes. Her words, not mine!
Would I have missed anything if I never opened this book? Not likely. Am I happy that I did? Yes!
In case you were wondering if Yes Please is something you should read:
YOU LOVE AND ADMIRE AMY POEHLER
YOU LOVE PARKS AND REC, ESPECIALLY LESLIE KNOPE
YOU DON’T KNOW WHO AMY POEHELR IS BUT ENJOY FUNNY AUTOBIGRAPHIES
YOU HATE AMY POEHLER
Yes, because you might change your mind.
YOU LIKE COMEDY, IMPROV, AND ACTING
YOU HATE COMEDY, IMPROV, AND ACTING
Why are you reading this article?
YOU’RE AN ASPIRING ACTOR/WRITER
YOUR MOM TOLD YOU TO READ YES PLEASE
Yes, listen to your mom!
NONE OF THE ABOVE
Sure, why not?
In short – Yes Please is a book, and books are good. (Except 50 Shades of Grey – don’t!) You may or may not find the answers to all the questions in the universe, but reading Yes Please will definitely not be a waste of time. It is not groundbreaking – or particularly deep, for that matter, but it’s impossible not to appreciate Poehler’s openness and willingness to let us in on who she is and what a life of a writer/comedian/mother/woman is all about. The world needs more people like her!